Ivo Jeramaz of Grgich Hills Estate Winery understands the crucial role biodiversity plays in growing wine grapes. For him it is all about the balance. Rather than eradicate all pests, he seeks to keep them in check with the use of Barn Owl and songbird boxes. He also keeps the ground covered in between vine rows, mowing cover crops rather than tilling, leaving roots other than vines for pest voles to eat. These practices fill the farm with an orchestra of sounds from birds, bees and other wildlife.
Dr. Matt Johnson of Humboldt State University has been studying Barn Owls for years. His work is helping farmers understand what kind of boxes they prefer, how natural areas influence nest box occupancy, and how they eat large numbers of rodents.
He also promotes the idea of reciprocity between birds and farmers. When farmers put up nest boxes, they are doing something really great for the birds. In return, the birds do important pest control work for the farmers. Matt sees this exchange and appreciation as a way to address a fundamental question in ecology - what is our relationship with nature and how do we create more of these win-win moments.
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