PACIFIC NORTHWEST NURSERY IPM
Flowers, Sweets and a Nice Place to Stay: Courting
Beneficials to Your Nursery
"Farmscaping" or "nurseryscaping" is an approach to crop production with a focus on enhancing the activity of beneficial organisms. This emphasis on biological control, sometimes called bio-intensive pest management, is gaining attention for its potential to reduce pesticide use. It is thought that by providing food and habitat resources for beneficial agents, growers can attract and retain these allies. Encouraging natural enemy activity might reduce the oscillations in pest populations and regulate insects and mites below damage thresholds. The benefits of catering a feast for natural enemies may be many, including reduced pesticide costs, mitigating negative pesticide effects, improving worker safety, and increased plant quality. Complicating successful implementation in ornamental systems is the diverse range of plants, pests, natural enemies, and production systems existing and the limited research available directly from nursery production systems. One strategy to increase utilization of this ecological approach is to encourage more on-farm trials in nurseries and increased information dispersal to and amongst growers.
This article has been developed to provide resources for those considering a more biologically oriented pest management system.
Where to Begin . . .
Dufour in Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control
(Dufour, 2000) suggests the following considerations in farmscaping design:
2) System Phenology
3) Strategic planning
Planting strips or hedge rows can be incorporated along the perimeter of the nursery or crop. Many retail and container nurseries already display plants in strips along the edge and entryway to their production sites. The addition of specific insectary plants to these existing plantings may be relatively easy to integrate.
Insectary plantings can also involve the introduction of a cover crop between or throughout rows of plants. Some bareroot and ball and burlap plant production systems already utilize cover crops and this might be expanded. An example of this is the use of buckwheat to act as a sink or trap crop for lygus pests in shade trees and the use of slow growing fescue species between plant rows to suppress weeds and reduce soil erosion and dust.
There are many factors that influence the choice and suitability of an intercropping or planting system. There are several good resources with information; pros and cons; and examples of these planting systems (Ambrosino 2005a; Dufour, 2000; Earnshaw, 2004; Quarles and Grossman, 2002).
In addition to flowering time, one must consider the floral structure of the plant. The design of the nectary, recessed and hidden, or shallow and easily available also influences the beneficial fauna that utilize the flower for nectar and pollen. Readily accessible pollen and nectaries such as found in umbels of plants in the Apiaceae family or sunflowers or plants with extrafloral nectaries such as vetch are very attractive to many tiny parasitic wasps and predatory flies.
Some plants act as a sink or source of pest species of concern as well as natural enemies. Shade trees nurseries are familiar with the migration of thrips and lygus from nearby grass fields as they dry down or are harvested. Grasses might favor predatory beetles but might also allow food and cover for voles. One can also utilize a preferred host as a trap crop such as the example of buckwheat for lygus.
The dispersal of the natural enemies away from the insectary plantings into the crop is desirable but specific insect and mite immigration information can be difficult to obtain. Chaney found that effects from sweet alyssum flowers were noted 30 - 40 ft (9 - 12.2 m) away from the plantings near lettuce fields. Sweet alyssum has a good reputation for attracting beneficials with a ratio of 204 beneficials per pest, nor does it attract lygus bugs or aphids (Quarles and Grossman, 2002). Research in several planting systems in California indicated the rubidium (Rb) marked insects which fed in borders around farms, including lady beetles, lacewings, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps, moved 250 feet into adjacent crops (Long, 1998).
Conservation of habitat
Farmscaping or nurseryscaping involves the study of
a dynamic and complex system, made particularly difficult given the diversity
in much of greenhouse and nursery production. This presents challenges
requiring additional knowledge or management skills for growers. A systematic,
research-oriented approach in planning habitat enhancement will improve
the chances of a desirable outcome and reduce potential mistakes. Such
efforts, implemented with a spirit of experimentation, determination,
and a good sense of humor, will likely benefit the grower in a better
understanding of the ecology of pest management, no matter what the outcome
of the experiment. Hopefully, the following resources will encourage growers
to explore the option of insectary plants.
Gurr G. M. and Wratten, S. D. (eds). (2000). Biological Control:Measures of Success. Kluwer: Dordrecht. 448 pp. (ISBN 0-412-84280-7)
Gurr G. M., Wratten, S. D. and Altieri M. A. (eds). (2004) Ecological Engineering: Advances in Habitat Manipulation for Arthropods . CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne (Australasian publisher)/ CABI International, Wallingford (European Publisher)/ Cornell University Press, Ithaca ( Americas publisher). 244 pp. ( ISBN 0643090223)
King, S. and W. Olkowski. 1991. Farmscaping and IPM. The IPM Practitioner 13(10):1-12.
Quarles, W. and J. Grossman. 2002. Insectary Plants, Intercropping and Biological Control. The IPM Practitioner 24(3):1-11.
Altieri, M., Nicholls, C. and M. Fritz. 2005. Manage Insects on Your Farm. A Guide to Ecological Strategies. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education handbook series ; bk. 7. [downloadable PDF].
Ambrosino, M. A. Practical Guidelines for establishing, maintaining and assessing the usefulness of insectary plantings on your farm. IPPC, Oregon State University.
Dufour, R. 2000. Farmscaping to enhance biological control. ATTRA, Fayetteville, AK. [Note: download fee].
Dufour, R. 2001. Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM). ATTRA, Fayetteville, AK. [downloadable PDF].
Earnshaw, S. 2004. Hedgerows for California Agriculture: A Resource Guide. Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Davis, CA
Edwards, Clive. ed. 2007. Enhancing Arable Biodiversity: Six practical solutions for farmers. SAFFIE. HGCA. London.
Ellen, Gwendoyn. Banking on Beetles: A Snapshot View of Creating a Beetle Bank. The Farmscaping for Beneficials Project & Participating Farmers. Integrated Plant Protection Center.
Fiedler,A., J. Tuell, R. Isaacs, and D. Landis
Holland, J. and Ellis, S.
on farmland: Identification and management guidelines.HGCA.
Jepson, P. and M. Vaughn. 2007. Farming for Pest Management. Xerces Society and IPPC.
Long, R.F., A. Corbett, C. Lamb, C. Reberg-Horton, J. Chandler, M. Stimmann. 1998. Beneficial insects move from flowering plants to nearby crops. California Agriculture, September-October. P. 23-26.
Masterson, L., Ellen, G., and P. Jepson. Banking on Beetles in Oregon: The 47th Ave. Farm. Integrated Plant Protection Center.
Morandin, L. et al. 2011. Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California's Central Valley. California Agriculture 65(4):197-201.
Ley, E. et al. Selecting Plants for Pollinators. Pollinator Partnership. Accessed 18 June 2014.
Pendergrass, K. et al. 2008. Plants for Pollinators in Oregon. USDA-NRCS. Plant Materials no. 13.
Powell, W. et al. 2004. Managing biodiversity in field margins to enhance integrated pest control in arable crops (3-D Farming Project). Can download each separate section (Parts 1-6). HGCA. London.
Pollinator Partnership. Free Pollinator Planting Guides [by eco-region]
Rosetta, R. 2001. Selected Bibliography: IPM for Ornamental Plants. Department of Horticulture Oregon State University.
SARE. 2012. Strategies to enhance beneficials.
Colley, M.R. and J.M. Luna. 2000. Relative Attractiveness of Potential Beneficial Insectary Plants to Aphidophagous Hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae). Environmental Entomology 29(5):1054-1059.
Greer, L. 2000. Greenhouse Management: Sustainable Aphid Control. ATTRA,
Fayetteville, AK.[Downloadable PDF].
Fungus Gnat Management
UC IPM Online. 2001. Fungus Gnats, Shore Flies, Moth Flies, and March Flies.
Benefits of insectary plants. Various insectary plants evaluated for impact on armored scale insects (Pine needle scale - Chionaspis pinifoliae and Euonymous scale - Enaspis euonymi) on Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and wintergreens (Euonymous fortunei Colorata)
Spider Mite Management
P. D. Pratt, R. Rosetta, B. A. Croft . 2002. Plant-Related Factors Influence the Effectiveness of Neoseiulus fallacis (Acari: Phytoseiidae), a Biological Control Agent of Spider Mites on Landscape Ornamental Plants. Journal of Economic Entomology 95(6):1135-1141.
Rosetta, R. 2010. When Mites Make Right. Digger July 2010 pp. 41-46.
Greer. L and S. Diver. 2009. Greenhouse
IPM: Sustainable Thrips Control. [Downloadable PDF].
Greer, L. 2000. Greenhouse Management: Sustainable Whitefly Control. ATTRA, Fayetteville, AK.[Downloadable PDF].
Additional Biological Control Resources:
Flint, M.L. and S. H. Driestadt. 1998. Natural
Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. #
3386. ANR Publications, University of California, 6701 San Pablo Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94608-1239. 154 pp.
Additional Biological Control Websites:
Ambrosino, M. A Pocket Guide to Common Natural Enemies of Crop and Garden Pests in the Pacific Northwest. IPPC, Oregon State University. This PDF has lots of color images of natural enemies and a nice little section with each family of commonly confused and similar insects.
Applied Bionomics. 2010. IPM and Biological Control
for Ornamental Nursery Pests.
Biological Control Information Center. North Carolina State University.
Hollingsworth (ed.). 2016. Biocontrol of Nursery Pests. PNW Insect Management Handbook. Oregon State University, University of Idaho and Washington State University.
Mahr, D., Whitaker, P., and N. Ridgway. 2008. Biological Control of Insects and Mites: An Introduction to Beneficial Natural Enemies and Their Use in Pest Management.
Mahr, S. et al. 2001. Biological
Control of Insects and Other Pests in Greenhouse Crops.
Rosetta, R. 2001. Selected Bibliography: IPM for Ornamental Plants. Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University.
Shrewsbury, P. M. Patt, J. M. 2003. Flowering Plants
to Enhance Biological Control of insect pests in Nurseries.
Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America. A great resource from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Both a PDF and html version available.
Weeden et al. June 12, 2005. Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America. Cornell's site with nice coverage of the basics of biological control.
Original version: <18 September 2014)
Last revision <26 October 2016>
Author: R.L. Rosetta, Extension Nursery Integrated Pest Management, Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University