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Farmscaping

Updated on May 17, 2009
Source: http://benton-franklin.wsu.edu/agriculture/Farmscaping.html
Source: http://benton-franklin.wsu.edu/agriculture/Farmscaping.html

"Farmscaping" is a holistic approach to pest control on farms that focuses on increasing biodiversity in order to maintain healthy populations of beneficial insects, birds, bats, and other wildlife as part of an ecological pest management program.

Farmscaping often treats beneficial wildlife as a kind of "minature livestock" that must be managed and provided for for just like cows, sheep, chickens, and other farm animals. Farmscapers use observation and science to plan hedgerows, flower beds, cover crops, and water reservoirs to favor beneficial wildlife over pests.

Benefits of Farmscaping

Farmscaping reduces the need for pesticides, lowering costs and reducing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals by farmworkers and consumers.

Farmscaping is also simple and generally inexpensive to implement. In many areas, costs can be lowered even further by federal conservation incentives or cost-share programs such as the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.

Finally, in addition to the ecological and environmental benefits of providing habitat for wildlife and increasing biodiversity, farmscaping also increases natural beauty for resident humans. Farmscaping can also contribute to side businesses for farmers, including beekeeping, cut flowers, and fish farming.

Disadvantages of Farmscaping

Farmscaping requires more observation and management than conventional pest control in order to provide maximum benefits. Because it is more dependent on natural cycles, it will also be more effective in some years than others. Even in a successful farmscaping implementation, some experimentation can be expected to get the combination of plants and habitats exactly right. For these reasons, farmscaping is best used as one of several pest management strategies.

Hedgerows have long been used by English farmers. This one is in Somerset. Photo by me'nthedogs
Hedgerows have long been used by English farmers. This one is in Somerset. Photo by me'nthedogs

Farmscaping Techniques

  • Hedgerows containing a diverse (and preferably native) mix of shrubs, small trees, flowering plants, and grasses are one of the most common tools of farmscapers due to the high diversity they support. They are frequently planted along waterways and drainage channels to reduce erosion and filter pollutants from runoff, along property borders to provide privacy, along field edges to encourage pollinator activity on crops, and to create a safe pathway for wildlife between habitat zones. Some hedgerows can also be used as a natural fence for livestock.
  • Much like hedgerows, flower gardens with a diverse mix of insectary plants (plants that attract insects) can be planted along field edges and other buffer zones in order to increase beneficial insect activity.
  • Mulches, ground covers, and cover crops are best known for their soil improvement qualities, but many also attract beneficial insects such as ground beetles and spiders. A number of good cover crops are also insectary plants, including clover, mustard, and vetch.
  • Woodlots and windbreaks offer shelter for birds and other wildlife, as well as wood for humans and increased energy efficiency for nearby buildings. Woodlots managed to increase mast production are especially beneficial.
  • Artificial housing, including birdhouses, bat houses, and bee hives, improves habitat and housing options for a variety of beneficial wildlife.
  • Water, particularly running water,attractsmany forms of wildlife, so farm ponds and streams can be managed to increase biodiversity by providing hedgerows or other habitat nearby.

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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Farmscaping sound sensible and intelligent for a small farm. But we are so dependent on the huge corporate farms, no way they will be able to create an environment like you describe.

    • The Oklahoma Kid profile image

      The Oklahoma Kid 

      9 years ago

      Like this approach alot and have done some studies in this area. Liked reading your article...or is it hub. I'm new here.

    • The Oklahoma Kid profile image

      The Oklahoma Kid 

      9 years ago

      Like this approach alot and have done some studies in this area. Liked reading your article...or is it hub. I'm new here.

    • kerryg profile imageAUTHOR

      kerryg 

      10 years ago from USA

      Thanks for your comment, vitaeb! Farmscaping is definitely based strongly on permaculture principles. My parents (who are my mentors in the garden) have always used a lot of permaculture techniques and I am starting to remake my yard according to the same. I, too, hope that they will take over more and more backyard gardens and farms alike, and their recent popularity is certainly a step in the right direction!

    • vitaeb profile image

      vitaeb 

      10 years ago from Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

      We live on 5 acres and have been using the principals of permaculture developed by the Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, in the early '70s. My wife, Margot, has been doing the work while I sit and read books :)))

      Farmscaping and permaculture appear to be identical systems. Both actually follow agricultural practices going back to earliest times. It's the natural way. The agri-business style that was taught in colleges and universities and became the preferred method of the agri-corporations provide just one more example of 20th century mismanagement. Hopefully, in a few short decades farmscaping methods will take over. I believe I read a recent article stating that the older, organic methods are provong to be more efficient and cost effective, bringing more income to the famer. At our place we employ the bio-dynamic school of Rudolf Steiner and Alan Chadwick.

      Thanks for posting this information.

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