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Organic farming tips from the experts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One way to reduce pesky insect populations in organic crops is to plant wild sunflowers.
One way to reduce pesky insect populations in organic crops is to plant wild sunflowers.

Organic farming in the U.S. has risen steadily in popularity over the past few decades. As more research flows into organic farming, new techniques are emerging that will help farmers better cultivate their organic crops using their John Deere tractors.

Research done at the University of California at Davis has shown that wild sunflowers are a natural pest control because lady beetles and parasitic wasps live in them, two "good" insects that kill "bad" ones. Mark Van Horn, director of the student farm at the university, told the New York Times that the wild sunflowers help the farm "provide a bed-and-breakfast for beneficial insects"

Chemical pesticides are more effective at eliminating pests than all-natural ones, and until recently many organic farmers lost large portions of their crops to unwelcome insects. The 2008 Farm Bill, however, increased research funding to $20 million annually and from those grants, a study came out that asserted a large variety of plants in a field along with no broad-spectrum pesticides promotes a balance of insects, as opposed to a domination by one species. Moreover, farmers now employ a kind of nocturnal crime fighter to reduce insect populations : researcher Rachel Long affirms that bats eat their weight in insects every night and organic farmers are beginning to build homes for them on farms.

Organic farming's growing popularity will spur more innovation in insect control, enabling farmers to better protect their crops: envision a future with bats wielding wild sunflowers, battling crop-killing insects as organic farmers look on proudly. 

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