Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pest Management Part 2

Pest Management part 2, TSP part 11
Well balanced/managed soils and healthy crops can stand up to some pest pressure.
In part one we spoke of having flowering plants to attract beneficial insects.  We also need to plant the grounds of the land with perennial type of flowers the will start flowering as soon as possible in the region we live in and will continue all year or until first frost.

Make a chart of the flowering, trees, shrubs and flowers you have in the immediate area of your garden.  You will need name of flowering plant, when it starts to flower and when the flowers cease.  Once the chart is done you can see the holes you need to fill in to complete the flowering cycle of your garden/farm.  People living on 5 acres or more will use the flowering vegetation directly connected to their property.  Those of use that live in Urban or City areas will consider the flowering vegetation within one to two block radius of our garden.  If you have neighbors putting in gardens then consider moving your parameter closer to your garden as your neighbor may get more benefit from the flowering shrubs in their back yard than you will.  In Urban/City area it is a guessing game.  Do the best you can to put the beneficial plants in your own yard, maybe even your neighbor wouldn’t mind if you cultivate an area of their yard if you promise to keep weeded etc.

Find innovative ways to solve the situations. Washington growers Eric and Deanna Strandberg transitioned their 400 acres of apple and pear orchards to organic in part because they noticed that the conventional way of dealing with pests by spraying often just created more pest problems, requiring more spraying. Organic pest management, in contrast, seeks to protect beneficial organisms for the services they can provide.

In their first transition year, Eric asked neighboring householders with fruit trees if he could put crumpled up newspapers in the crotches of their trees to catch earwigs, which feed on the eggs of the pear psylla, the worst pear pest worldwide.”  The earwigs ue the newspaper during the day for a home and come out at night to eat the psylla..Case study by Rodale Institute.    
 Organic farmers have long maintained that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides make pest problems worse. Recent research has begun to support those observations. Plant susceptibility to insect feeding has been linked to high plant nitrogen levels, which in turn are related to the high soluble fertilizer inputs typical of non-organic agriculture. Free amino acids, again associated with high N applications, have also been reported to increase pest attacks. Compost-fed plants have lower soluble nitrogen levels and are thus less attractive to pests.” Rodale Institute.

“Systemic acquired resistance: Do plants have immune systems? Some scientists think the answer is yes. The term "systemic acquired resistance" refers to physiological changes that occur in plants in response to initial insect feeding or disease infection. These changes can help the plants stop the infection or slow insect reproduction rates. There's even evidence that crop plants under insect attack emit volatile scent signals to protect themselves or to communicate with insect enemies of the attackers.
Plant immune responses may also increase crops' nutritional value.    Researchers in California have found that unsprayed organic fruits produce higher levels of antioxidantsprized by health-conscious consumersin response to insect and pathogen attacks.” Rodale Institute

Biodiversity has proven to be the best pest protection.  Creating environments for beneficals to live, selecting crops appropriate to your area and staying away from synthetic pesticides seems to work better all the way around.

When choosing insectary plants, consider these criteria:

        Select plants for their attractiveness to beneficial insects
        Choose plants with an early and long bloom period
        Select plants with low potential to host crop viruses or attract pest species
        Choose plants with low potential to become weeds
        Consider low seed cost and easy establishment

Many members of the Umbelliferae (coriander, dill, Queen Anne's lace), Compositae (goldenrod, yarrow, sunflower), Brassicaceae (sweet alyssum, wild mustard) and Leguminosae (sweet clover, alfalfa) plant families offer good floral resources for beneficial insects.

Among California vegetable growers, a popular insectary plant mixture is sweet alyssum, coriander, buckwheat and a cereal grain. (The cereal acts as a windbreak and as a host for alternate prey of the beneficials.) “ Rodale institute

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