Hundreds of farmers working on biodiversity
As part of the collaborative project 'Flourishing Farm' (2011-2015), 570 farmers worked together to increase functional biodiversity. They were supported by local organisations for agricultural landscape and nature management, the Louis Bolk Institute, the association of organic dairy farmers 'De Natuurweide', and the farmers associations 'Veelzijdig Boerenland' and 'BoerenNatuur'. During the project the farmers created hundreds of kilometres of wild flower field margins each year. This way they contributed to:
- Increased diversity and abundance of natural enemies of crop pests
- Reduced need for chemical pesticides thanks to natural pest control
- Increased understanding of farm ecology/agricultural ecosystems/ecological processes on the farm
- Protection of beneficial insects as a basis for nature conservation
So by providing more room for natural pest control the need for chemical pesticides was reduced.
The Flourishing Farm project was funded by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs and the European Agricultural Fund. The Louis Bolk Institute provided expertise and support, and organized field demonstrations and study days throughout the Netherlands. The focus of these meetings was to exchange knowledge and experience. Biodiverse field margins are not only useful, but also beautiful. For farmers it was great to see how the field margins contributed to a healthier arable ecosystem.
Seeds instead of insecticides
The farmers use special seed mixes of wild flowers that attract beneficial insects such as lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic wasps – all of which are important natural enemies of aphids. The first results of 2011 show that most participants feel sufficiently confident about the effect of their biodiverse field margins to use less pesticide against aphids.
Special seed mixes of wild flowers were used in order to attract beneficial insects such as lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic wasps – all of which are important natural enemies of aphids. The results were impressive: as many as 70% of the participating farmers indicated that they had changed their ideas about crop protection.
Read the report on this demonstration project (in Dutch).