Tom Broz - Live Earth Farm

Tom Broz of Live Earth Farm focuses on planting hedgerows that bring native vegetation closer to the fields in order to support beneficial birds, pollinators, predatory insects and even snakes that provide ecosystem services to the farm. 

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Tom Broz of Live Earth Farm. Photo by Live Earth Farm

Tom Broz of Live Earth Farm in Corralitas, California is farming in a way that supports nature and the community. The farm grows more than 50 different crops and has programs that bring kids and their families to the farm. Tom has installed hedgerows throughout the farm in order to bring more native habitat into his fields. This practice brings beneficial birds and insects to the places where he needs their services the most. Initially he was worried that with so much wildlife close to the crops there would be damage. But he has not seen that happen; rather, he recognizes that the birds are doing more good than harm, protecting his crops from pest insects. 

Megan Garfinkel, postdoctoral researcher  at University of Illinois Chicago, has studied how habitat on the edges of agriculture fields affects pest control services by birds. What she found is that no matter if the situation is a coffee farm surrounded by forest fragments, a corn and soybean field surrounded by grasslands, or row crops with hedgerows, the pattern is the same. The habitat at the edges and on the field margins increases the probability that farmers will see pest control by birds. Her advice to farmers is to find a place to start that makes sense for the farm - keep remnant habitat on the field edges instead of clearing it out, plant native shrubs and hedgerows along the edges of and into your fields, and put up nest boxes and perches. Bringing birds closer to the fields where they can provide important pest control services is a win-win for the farms and the birds.

Click here for more information on Live Earth Farm