Study reveals best use of wildflowers to benefit crops on farms

Read the full story from Cornell University.

With bee pollinators in decline and pesky crop pests lowering yields, sustainable and organic farmers need environmentally friendly solutions.

One strategy is to border crops with wildflower plantings to attract pollinators and pest predators. But scientists have suggested that such plantings may only be effective when farms are surrounded by the right mix of natural habitat and agricultural land.

For the first time, a Cornell study of strawberry crops on New York farms tested this theory and found that wildflower strips on farms added pollinators when the farm lay within a “Goldilocks zone,” where 25 to 55 percent of the surrounding area contained natural lands. Outside this zone, flower plantings also drew more strawberry pests, while having no effect on wasps that kill those pests.

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