Claire Haag of Haag Farm Walnuts in Esparto, California views the wild edges of her orchard as an important asset. These edges provide a “welcome home” for birds, predatory insects and pollinators by creating a year-long buffet of food sources. As a result, they are avoiding chemical applications because the birds and beneficial insects are providing pest suppression. Surrounding their pond, they installed a variety of native plants to support wildlife that in turn supports the orchard. Claire points out that these types of plantings do not need to be well-groomed in order to be successful - her “jungle” is doing an excellent job of attracting birds that help the farm.
Dr. Sacha Heath, from Living Earth Collaborative in St. Louis, MO, conducted research in the Sacramento Valley looking at the effects of planting hedgerows on the edges of different types of crops. What she found was that when hedgerows were part of the larger landscape with other types of native vegetation, these hedgerows will increase the predation of pest insects by birds. Her ultimate goal is to find ways to merge together our needs with those of wildlife in order to create a world that benefits both.