Aweb tool that helps growers choose the right seed mix for their field marginshas been launched by the Horticultural Development Company (HDC) andStockbridge Technology Centre (STC).
Growersof horticultural crops face increasing production pressures, including thediminishing availability of crop protection products and the need to complywith environmental legislation. The Automated Field Margin tool helps combatthese issues by proposing suitable seed mixes that encourage natural pestenemies, as well as farmland birds and pollinators, as part of an IntegratedPest Management (IPM) strategy.
Thetool comprises a catalogue of mixes generated from a large database withinformation collated from sources that include academic literature, theBiological Records Centre and Ecoflora. Unless carefully designed, fieldmargins can attract pests or result in poor margin establishment; however theautomated tool is designed to take these issues into account, combiningdiffering crops and cropping regimes, budgets, soil types, and preference forannuals or perennials.
Designedfor vegetable crops, the seed mixes have the advantage over standard fieldmargin mixes of building up predatory insect communities by providing nectarsources and alternative prey at a stage when pest numbers are low. The optionto include perennial flowers in the seed mixes reduces management inputs forfarmers, increases longevity of the margins and provides over wintering sites forimportant beneficial insects.
RichardMoynan, Independent Agronomist said, This easy-to-use tool will really helpgrowers to identify the right pollinating field margin seed mix for theirspecific conditions.
CherylBrewster, HDC Research Manager said, It is widely acknowledged thatestablishing perennial field margins can help farms promote ecosystem servicessuch as crop pollination, pest control and general biodiversity, but itsimportant to get the mix right and to avoid flowers which may host pestsspecifically associated with growers crops the tool can help do this.
Toaccess information on the benefits of field margins and to generate a seed mixtailored to your farm visit: http://www.stockbridgetechnology.co.uk/Automated_Margins/