Cindy Lashbrook of Riverdance Farms in Livingston, California has diversified their organic fruit and nut farm with cover crops, a hedgerow that serves as a wildlife corridor, a wildlife pond surrounded by habitat, and native plants along their river’s edge. She has also installed several kinds of nest boxes, including new ones for American Kestrels.
While all this habitat naturally brings in beneficial predators, she is hopeful that more Kestrels will be on the patrol next spring, keeping the pest birds nervous when the cherries and blueberries become ripe. Cindy gives pointers on what farmers can do to get started with bringing more biology, wildlife and natural pest control services to their farms, and says, “You can do things that are good for you and your farm, and in the long run be a good steward for all the people around you.”
Dr. Catherine Lindell of Michigan State University studies the behavior and ecology of birds and their role in providing ecosystem services and disservices in agriculture landscapes.
She has investigated the value of attracting predatory American Kestrels with nest boxes in cherry orchards and found the number of fruit-eating birds diminishes when there are active Kestrels nesting. She and partnering economists determined that Michigan's GDP would be about $2 million higher over five years because of the cherries saved.
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