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Farmscaping and EPM. Or: Integrated Parasite, Pathogen & Predator Management; Or: Plant It and They Will Come. Richard C. McDonald, Ph.D. Symbiont Biological Pest Management. Farmscaping.

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Farmscaping and EPM

Or:

Integrated Parasite, Pathogen & Predator Management; Or:

Plant It and They Will Come.

Richard C. McDonald, Ph.D.

Symbiont Biological Pest Management


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Farmscaping

  • Definition: Dr. Robert Bugg - Deliberate use of specific plants and landscaping techniques to attract and conserve “Beneficials”.

  • All Trophic levels (soil, plants, insects) must be healthy & balanced; especially soil!

  • Once these levels are set, then “Governing Forces” can take control - Balance of Nature - tip it in our favor slightly

  • View pests as messengers - what are they saying - Rome - kill the bearer of bad news.


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4 Basic Ecological Principles:

  • 1. Increase Plant Diversity.

  • 2. Increase Plant Structural Diversity - food, overwintering sites, mating sites, etc.

  • 3. Increase the time these are available.

  • 4. Decrease the distance beneficials have to travel.


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Farmscaping

  • EPM - Integrated Parasite, Pathogen and Predator Management (IPPPM)

  • 1969 - Everett Dietrich’s Paper on IPPM - read and know his principles.

  • Shift focus away from ‘pest’ to having a healthy population of beneficials as the primary focus. Prevention is primary.

  • BB50 - beneficial insect seed blends - See Handout on Virginia Tech’s Farmscaping.


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Farmscaping

  • My EPM goal: When sampling, I want to see 1/4 to 1/3 of the plants with beneficial insect(adult wasps, beetles, larvae, cocoons, pupae, mummies, partially eaten egg masses, etc.) activity or plants should be fairly pest free - economic threshold.

  • Sample size power analysis to determine how many plants to sample.


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Farmscaping is Proactive!

  • These two systems are totally different in the amount and kinds of beneficials that are present, based on the biodiversity of plants present. Rebuilding clock: how long it takes to create a healthy farmscape.


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Farmscaping: Applied Principles1) Build Guilds - Multiple Redundant Systems

  • BB50 - 1) Multiple Redundant Systems - both plants and beneficials - Guilds

  • Goal - Bracketing - having a natural enemy(s) present for every life stage of the pest(s).


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Farmscaping Principles: 2) Bracketing - Natural Enemies for every life stage of the pest.


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Farmscaping Principles3) Anticipate Pest Problems

  • Think Ahead- encourage the right beneficial insects to be there when needed them to attack the pests. Timing of ladybugs/Trichogramma wasps to attack the eggs of caterpillars.

  • Work Backwards from the PEST to the Beneficials to the plants/requisites that attract the beneficials.


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Farmscaping Principles4) Specific Plants Can Attract Specific Beneficials.

  • Fennel is great for attracting parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, and ladybugs. So one plant can bring in a guild of beneficials.


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FS Principles - 5) How much Farmscaping?

  • 1 to 5% of crop area should be planted in farmscaping plants- “lots of clumps of food plants spread out over an area is much better than one big clump”. Or, incorporate farmscaping into borders, ditches, and fencerows.



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FS Principles: 7) Have something blooming all the time

  • Flowers are prime food & mating sites for wasps. Important to have a well fed, mated female beneficial! Green House – use to Jump-start garden areas.


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FS Principles: 8) Nectar!

  • Nectar – liquid sugar food + vitamins for beneficials. Nectar is critical for optimum performance of many beneficials. Many beneficials will lay over 3-10 fold more eggs if properly fed.


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FS Principles: 9) Extra-Floral Nectaries

  • Nectar glands that are not associated with flowers. Peonies, Sweet potatoes, bachelor buttons, kenafe, all have extrafloral nectaries. Parasitic insects use these extrafloral nectaries as important food sources.


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FS Principles: 10) Pollen

  • Is an alternative form of protein. Once again, many plants in the wild carrot family can provide pollen. Another good pollen producer is the corn plant. Syrphid flies need pollen to lay eggs.


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FS Principles- 11) Overwintering

  • It turns out that many beneficials make cocoons and hibernate in or very near the plants where they find their hosts. Recent research has shown that yarrow and comfrey are also excellent overwintering plants for parasitic wasps.


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FS Principles: 12) Entrainment

  • Entomologists have discovered that insects (especially parasitic wasps and flies) can perform associative learning, so if you get insects (especially young ones) happy in their environment, they will “tune in” to a particular pest.


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FS Principles:13)Drought/Stress

  • These systems can also fail! In drought years insects from all over will come to your area and can overwhelm a system. Be ready with backups additional insects, ladybugs/lacewings, Bt, soaps, diatomaceous earth.


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FS Principles: 14) Hold Yer Fire!

  • “I didn’t know what is was….. So I killed it.”

  • Remember you need some pests around in order to feed your beneficials. If you have to spray, use materials that are biorationals (like Bt) and won’t kill your beneficials. Realize that broad-spectrum pesticides kill everything and you are resetting your beneficial clock back to zero.


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FS Principles:15) Lastly -Encourage Diversity!

  • Remember that insects are part of the web of life in your garden or farm. The beneficial insect complex is not only composed of parasitic wasps and flies, predatory beetles, lacewing larvae, ladybugs and so on, but ALSO the pollinators, antagonists/competitors that occupy and compete for space and food with potential pests, and finally the saprophytes and decomposing insects that help complete the food cycle back to the soil so the cycle can start again.


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