In Switzerland, there are rows of wildflowers like red poppies and blue cornflowers planted among the crops. These beautiful wildflowers can serve as an eco-friendly way to reduce the usage of pesticides.
The Swiss farmers are trying to replace pesticides with these wildflowers to protect their crops. The scientists are working closely with them to develop a technique in which these wildflowers are used to attract the pests.
Matthias Albrecht along with Matthias Tschumi brought forth this concept for the first time. The research was taken up due to the demand and pressure from both the government and the public. Pesticides have harmful effects on both humans and the environment.
The Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST) program of the UK has taken this concept further. In the next 5 years, their scientists are planning to test the efficiency of these wildflowers as a pest control. ASSIST is funded by the UK govt. and the project is worth £11 million. They aim to develop sustainable means of increasing food production while having minimal adverse impact on the environment.
Commercial farmers are sowing wildflower strips in their field under scientists’ guidance. Flowers like red clover, wild carrot, oxeye daisy, and common knapweed are planted in fifteen farms of eastern and central England. The test will focus on increasing the population of various beneficial predatory as well as parasitic insects.
The research results as of now are demonstrating that more complex the predator and parasite communities, better the pest-control. These beneficial insect populations can be attracted by planting particular wildflowers and grasses, according to the researchers. Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and ground beetles are important for pollination and controlling the pests.
Parasitic wasps require open flowers for feeding on the nectar and pollen grains. In the absence of this, their population will decrease since they won’t be able to breed. Planting wildflowers will provide these insects with the required breeding ground, thus increasing their population.
The scientists need to come up with innovative ways to increase food production sustainably because of the growing world population. The current world population is 7 billion which is expected to reach 10 billion in the next 30 years.
According to scientists, wildflowers may be the solution to the pesticide problem. Projects like these are essential to achieve food security and keep the environment at the same time.
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