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Scientist Says Hedgerows Can Reduce Pesticides


Research from University of California's Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR) shows that hedgerows marking the edges of farm fields improve a farm's ecology. They not only benefit birds and bees – but hedgerows can also reduce the need for pesticides.

Rachael Long, a farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension, points to a long row of shrubs lining a tomato farm near Woodland in Yolo County. 

“We have Christmas berries, and elderberry -- which has these beautiful blueberries that a lot of birds really like. We have redbud which has terrifically bright red flowers in the spring. And also ceanothus which is California lilac which has blue flowers in the spring.”

She says birds and bees feast on the flowering plants' nectar and pollen. The bushes also provide habitat for natural enemies.

“Your lady beetles, and big eyed bugs, as well as green laced wings and little parasitic wasps.”

The insects eat the pests that chew on tomato plants.

But, if a farmer does spray -- hedgerows can prevent water pollution.

"If they're planted along some of the drainage ditches then they can really help with trapping sediments and pesticides and also nitrates so they keep those water pollutants away from our streams, rivers and groundwater."

Long's research concludes that farmers who dedicate some land to hedgerows tend to use fewer chemicals.