Hundreds of farmers working on biodiversity
Within the collaborative project 'Flourishing Farm', hundreds of farmers are working together to increase beneficial biodiversity. They are 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'. The farmers have created over six hundred kilometres of wild flower field margins in 2011, and the number of participants keeps growing. Their objective is to increase the diversity and abundance of natural enemies of crop pests. By providing more room for natural pest control the need for chemical pesticides is reduced.
The Flourishing Farm project runs from 2011-2014 and is funded by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, and the European Agricultural Fund. The Louis Bolk Institute provides expertise and support, and organizes field demonstrations and study days throughout the country together with organisations for agricultural landscape and nature management. For a map of locations where field margins are being created, see http://www.bloeiendbedrijf.nl/akkerranden-op-de-kaart.
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.
Efficient knowledge exchange
As part of the project, field meetings are organized throughout the growing season. In 2011 more than 40 meetings were held, drawing over 500 visitors. The main objective of these meetings is to exchange knowledge and experience – about how to create and manage wild flower field margins, and how to identify and increase beneficial biodiversity. Biodiverse field margins are not only useful but also beautiful, and it is great to see how they contribute to a healthier arable ecosystem.
Project results are published on the website of the Flourishing Farm project. Based on field observations in 2011 the Louis Bolk Institute has put together a waterproof mini field guide of beneficial biodiversity.
Leaflet: Flourishing Farm