What is regenerative agriculture? In week six of this 12 part series, we’ll consider this indicator of an ecologically healthy farm system: increasing landscape diversity. Landscape diversity occurs at various scales: plot, field, field perimeter, farm, and region. When we talk about diversity we are looking at moving along a continuum from simple systems to more complex systems. Ecological systems can be examined as overlapping features such as soil life, soil cover, water features, shelter, nesting habitat, flowering plants, native plants, plant structure, and corridor connectivity. Then we ask how each of these features can be enhanced to better support beneficial wildlife such as pollinator insects, predatory insects, reptiles and amphibians, birds, bats, and other wild mammals.
As an example, we can support predatory insects, which protect our crops from insect pests, by keeping snags (a standing dead or dying tree) and decomposing logs, by providing habitat close to the crop fields, by planting alternate native host plants (for food when crop pests are not present) and other sources of nectar and pollen, by providing clean water fro drinking, nest building, egg laying, by keeping some brush pile, bunch grasses, or leaf piles, and by minimizing tillage. This complexity can look ‘messy’ to people accustomed neat rows and bare soil. We know that messiness is teeming with life!When we see a beautiful black rat snake here on the farm, we feel grateful. We know the snake is not venomous and poses no threat to humans. The snake’s presence also indicates that the soil and water are free of poison and that snake has adequate habitat. The snake eats lots of mice, voles, and moles and is welcome on the farm!
The list of classes for 2018 is getting shorter as the season winds down, but we are hard at work planning new and exciting things for 2019! If you have an idea for a class or workshop you’d like to offer, let’s talk!
See you at the farm!