Sustainable agricultural production relies on ecosystem services such as biological pest control. This service is at risk through intensive agricultural management; but can be improved by offering resources to pests’ natural enemies. Flower strips tailored to the specific needs of natural enemies of crop pests (i.e. cereal leaf beetles and aphids) were evaluated on farms. Natural enemies were strongly increased in tailored flower strips and to some extent also in the neighboring crops. Cereal leaf beetle numbers were 40%–53% lower in winter wheat fields with tailored flower strip and aphid density was 75% lower in potato fields with flower strip compared to control fields without flower strips. In addition, crop damage caused by cereal leaf beetles was reduced by 61%. These results suggest that tailored flower strips can help to reduce pests in addition to potential benefits to biodiversity, and as such offer an added value for agricultural production. In 2017 two seed mixtures tailored to the specific needs of natural enemies of crop pests will be available on the market.
Tailored flower strips for arable crops reduce cereal leaf beetles and aphids