Hedgerows enhance pest control and pollination of crops

An American study recommended planting more hedgerows around the edges of farms. The restoration of hedgerows will support populations of beneficial animals like pollinators and insectivores that prey on pests, thereby improving the productivity of intense agricultural systems that are working to meet humankind’s ever-growing need for food.

The study was supported by the University of California – Cooperative Extension. Its findings were published in the journal California Agriculture.

  • California agricultural areas currently have low numbers of hedgerows. Farmers resist planting additional hedgerows because they do not know about the benefits of field edge habitats. They are also worried about any negative effects on productivity and intrusion by wildlife.
  • Decades-old farm hedgerows underwent evaluation. Their effects on agricultural fields were compared to field edge cropping systems that were artificially cleared using disk harrows, herbicides, and mowers.
  • Hedgerows were shown to support larger populations of animals that were natural enemies of pest species. More species and greater numbers of native pollinator species were also found in natural field edges.
  • Analysis suggested that savings from reduced usage of toxic insecticides and profits from improved crop productivity could pay for the installation cost of hedgerows within seven to 16 years.
  • Damage from incursions of hedgerow wildlife into agricultural areas was considered to be minimal and manageable. Furthermore, hedgerows did not increase the prevalence of Salmonella, E. coli, and other pathogens in food crops.

The researchers recommended reaching out to farmers about the benefits of hedgerows, providing technical guidance on installation and management, and reaffirming official support for the restoration of field edge habitats.

View the complete study at this site.

Drop by Harvest.news for more articles about natural means of improving the productivity of your farm.

Journal reference

Long RF, Garbach K, Morandin LA. HEDGEROW BENEFITS ALIGN WITH FOOD PRODUCTION AND SUSTAINABILITY GOALS. California Agriculture. 13 September 2017;71(3):117–119. DOI: 10.3733/ca.2017a0020.

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