Thursday, October 13, 2011
Today we, and several other farmers in our area, met with NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) and Sam Earnshaw, of CAFF (California Alliance for Family Farmers) to go over hedgerow design at a field day put on by Cheryl Feit, out of the Madera office. For more information about hedgerows, check out the CAFF site here
Hedgerows have come to the attention of the USDA National Resource Conservation Service in recent years as a way to encourage farmers to plant native plants, perennials that do not get removed every year or tilled, that can provide shelter for insects and vertebrates such as snakes, voles, and of course also mice and rabbits in areas that are extensively cultivated where all native species have been removed and the ground is intensively farmed. The research is encouraging. This study, published in California Agriculture, authored by Rachel Long, shows the advantages. "The abundance of beneficial insects was consistently greater than pests in the hedgerow shrubs compared with weedy areas during each season." full article here
We have been awarded grant monies through the USDA's small farmer assistance program to plant our own hedgerow. We were able to view and discuss a hedgerow that had been planted 6 years ago at TD Willey Farms, down the road from us here in Madera. Tom walked the visitors through the pros and cons of establishing a native plant hedgerow. He says that while there are definitely pollinator beneficials using the hedgerow, it also is a haven for rodents. They had trouble with carrots being planted nearby. And they still use honey bee pollination service for their cucurbits. So they were mixed on the benefits other than the fact that it provides species diversity on the small farm, which is greatly needed. We won't plant as many tall things with dense understory, plus it will be much narrower than theirs. We also plan to plant smaller more low growing annuals and less large perennials, and those will likely be pruned and shaped. The Willey hedgerow at this time consists mostly of coyote bush that has grown about 25 ft high and very dense.
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org at 3:33 PM