Farms in the UK and Switzerland are trying a classic approach to reducing their use of pesticides: flowers. Yes, the flowers provide nutrients for insects that eat crops, but they also provide for predators. The difference in the approach for these experimental farms is how they arrange the flowers so the insects get what they need while not enough to damage the crops. Rows of flowers are spaced precisely so that insects can’t travel to far on these factory farms. Smaller farms might naturally benefit from insect proximity already.
As a bonus, the flowers make the farm a little prettier and smell better.
Similar studies have tested the same approach elsewhere. In one study in Switzerland, researchers planted poppies, cilantro, dill, and other flowers along fields of winter wheat. The plants fed and sheltered insects like ladybugs that ate the bugs that eat wheat, and ultimately reduced leaf damage 61%. The researchers estimated that choosing the right mix of flowers could increase yield 10%, making it economically self-sustaining or even profitable to keep planting flowers.
They also want to understand the economic value of the approach, and how it can be incorporated with modern farming tech. “We hope this will underpin a rethink of farming practice to include a more ecological approach to agriculture where farmers actively enhance the underlying ecological processes that benefit crop production,” they say. “We also intend to use this experimental network to demonstrate this approach to industry and to train farmers–our experience has shown that farmers often need to see these approaches in action on real farms before they adopt them.”
Canada Blooms is a competition to demonstrate one’s ability to display flowers. In the past it was based on the look of the arrangement done in a garden, now they are expanding how they think about flowers. This year they want people to submit rain gardens to the competition.
Rain gardens are preferred because they use water that falls from he sky instead of draining local aquifers or other finite sources. It’s good to see a Canada Blooms caring about the environment and hopefully they will become more conscious of nature with every year.
“Rain gardens are a brilliant concept,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “By creating some small adjustments in your home garden you can not only create a fuller, lush garden, but you will also help improve water quality in nearby bodies of water and ease the strain on our environment.”
Rain gardens are natural or man-made rainwater runoffs that allow storm water to be soaked into the ground and plants rather than flowing into storm drains. By diverting the water that would eventually drain out to local rivers, lakes or to the sea, rain gardens help prevent erosion, water pollution and flooding.
Toyota has received a lot of criticism over the production process of their Prius because the production process is quite awful for the environment. Toyota has reacted by designing new flowers to absorb bad air from the production facilities.
Toyota has created two flower species that absorb nitrogen oxides and take heat out of the atmosphere.
The flowers, derivatives of the cherry sage plant and the gardenia, were specially developed for the grounds of Toyota’s Prius plant in Toyota City, Japan.
The sage derivative’s leaves have unique characteristics that absorb harmful gases, while the gardenia’s leaves create water vapour in the air, reducing the surface temperature of the factory surrounds and, therefore, reducing the energy needed for cooling, in turn producing less carbon dioxide (CO2).
The two new plants are part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce the impact of Prius manufacture on the environment. Since 1990, the plant has reduced CO2 emissions by 55 per cent.
Read more at Drive.