February 2022 - News from the Wild Side
On the Road to Bringing Nature Back to Our Farms and Ranches
While we still have more road left to travel to advance our vision, we are moving forward and the work we do together is making a difference! Thanks for being a part of this important movement.
In this newsletter we cover our new online course for agricultural professionals and farmers about the role of birds on the farm. It will take us on a virtual road tour where we hear from experts in avian pest control, entomology, ornithology and conservation from around the country.The first class starts on March 14th.
We’ve been on real roads this winter, expanding our Farmland Flyway Trail by 16 farms in California’s Central Coast, and have an astonishing story about Ridge Vineyards that has more than 100,000 insects being eaten by Western Bluebirds.
The piece about how our team is growing shows our newest staff member at a farm on the road of Hedgerows to the Moon and Back. In case you missed the final video in our Beneficial Bird Series, Shrubby Hedgerows and Edge Habitat Increase Pest Control by Birds, you’ll be glad we reminded you to view this inspiring story.
We are excited to share two bird studies that highlight how natural habitat increases bird benefits to the farm, and how farmers can feel good about supporting avian insectivores, which are a low food safety risk. Finally, we encourage you to attend EcoFarm 2022 (virtually) coming in a few weeks.
We hope you enjoy the newsletter and look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming virtual events!
WFA is launching a virtual course in March that will teach agricultural professionals and farmers how to support beneficial birds and manage pest birds on farms. By learning how to assess the farm’s avian needs and opportunities, farms can be designed to provide for a diversity of beneficial birds. If pest birds are a problem, they can be discouraged with specific practices during the shorter periods when they cause damage. The sessions cover the latest research, tools and resources, and are given by experts in avian pest control, entomology, ornithology and conservation. Learn More and Register
Written by Kyle Theriot and Tricia Jordan
Ridge Vineyards is the largest grower of organically certified grapes in Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. They started their organic transition in 2008, have increased organic acreage ever since, and are now very close to 100% organic certification at both estates.
Ridge relies on the Western Bluebirds to clean up invertebrate pests that cause damage to their vineyards. The #1 enemy is the Blue Green Sharpshooter (BGSS) which harbors in riparian areas. Read More
We are excited to share about WFA’s new employee, Brian Fagundes. While Brian recently became a permanent member of our team, they are not new to our work. Brian has been contracting with us since last summer, helping to create a new resource that will assist farmers and agricultural professionals install native plantings that support beneficial birds. We are thrilled to officially add Brian to our team this year. Read More
We released our final video in our Beneficial Bird Series. This video features Tom Broz of Live Earth Farm in Corralitas, California and Megan Garfinkel, postdoctoral researcher at University of Illinois Chicago. Tom has installed hedgerows throughout the farm in order to bring more native habitat and beneficial birds closer to his fields. Megan has studied how habitat on the edges of agricultural fields affects pest control services by birds. Watch this video and explore the series.
Written by Kat Kerlin and published on UC Davis Website, February 23, 2022
A supportive environment can bring out the best in an individual - even for a bird. After an E.coli outbreak in 2006 devastated the spinach industry, farmers were pressured to remove natural habitat to keep wildlife - and the foodborne pathogens they can sometimes carry - from visiting crops. A study published today from the University of California, Davis, shows that farms with surrounding natural habitat experience the most benefits from birds, including less crop damage and lower food-safety risks. Read More
Written by Emily Dooley and published on UC Davis Website, January 5, 2022
Concerns over foodborne risks from birds may not be as severe as once thought by produce farmers, according to research from the University of California, Davis, that found low instances of E.coli and Salmonella prevalence.
While the research found that the risk is often low, it varies depending on species. Birds like starlings that flock in large numbers and forage on the ground near cattle are more likely to spread pathogenic bacteria to crops like lettuce, spinach and broccoli according to the study of food safety risk and bird pathogens. In contrast, insect-eating species were less likely to carry pathogens. Read More.
Join with WFA and thousands of others virtually to connect with the WEst's largest gathering of agriculturalists working to advance just and ecological farming and food systems. #EcoFarm2022 will feature 30+ skill-building workshops in English and in Spanish, keynote speakers, intensives, special events, and much more. View conference schedule and register.