Main research question/goal
How can useful organisms present in the agricultural ecosystem be stimulated and engaged in an ecological farming system? The focus in this empirical research is on biological plague control using natural enemies. The agricultural ecosystem contains several organisms that could support crop production. Some of these “ecosystem services” are wild (bumble)bees that can pollinate crops, soil organisms can control the availability of nutrients and natural enemies like ladybirds and carabid beetles can suppress plague insects.
By studying scientific literature and doing field experiments we investigate which habitats stimulate useful organisms. A suitable habitat provides primary needs like food (for all life stadia), cover, and a place for hibernation. We try to fulfill those needs by installing (flower rich) field margins. Our research assesses the level of success achieved in attracting and multiplying useful organisms, and evaluates whether and to what extent ecosystem services are provided via the field margins. The main emphasis there is on monitoring biological plague control by natural enemies.
Society is in favour of more ecological farming systems. Amongst others, this is expressed by the European Commission’s call for a greener agricultural policy. At the same time, farming also has an important economical aspect that should be safeguarded. A useful and practical policy to make farming greener would thus include positive effects both on agriculture and the environment. This win-win situation can be achieved by concentrating on useful organisms and related ecosystem services.
|Effective start/end date||30/04/09 → 31/12/17|