Why Provide Habitat for Beneficials?
Organic farmers have historically been interested in utilizing beneficial insects for pest management. Survey data indicate that the preferred method organic farmers use to accomplish this is not to purchase beneficial insects but rather to enhance populations that already exist on their farms (Warner and Getz 2008). Even though pesticide impacts on beneficials may be greatly reduced in organic farming operations, most organic farmers are compelled to provide habitat of some kind to further enhance beneficial populations.
Research has shown that increasing the amount of non-crop habitat present in a landscape directly increases the value that beneficial insects provide. The following articles briefly summarize general principles and examples growers can follow when putting habitat for beneficial insects on their farms.