Using flowering seed mixes to improve farmland biodiversity
Sowing flowering seed mixes on your farmland promotes biodiversity. However, you must choose the right mix to attract pollinators as well as the natural enemies of your crop pests. Find out more below about seed mixes and natural pest control in farmland.
Research on flowering seed mixes
Flowering seed mixes were originally developed to provide resources for farmland birds, with ‘standard’ nectar and pollen mixes following in the 1990s to address declines in farmland pollinators. Evidence suggests that certain pollinator groups respond well to the ever-increasing areas of farmland sown with nectar and pollen mixes.
However, natural enemies of crop pests tend not to visit the same flowers as bees and butterflies, so you need to choose a seed mix that attracts natural enemies of pests. This gives crops extra protection.
As part of the Defra-funded Ecostac project, scientists at Lancaster University, Fera and Stockbridge Technology Centre, in collaboration with AHDB Horticulture and other partners, have shown that you can use flowering seed mixes to support conservation efforts and improve crop management at the same time.
Why sow flowering seed mixes?
Research shows that there are several benefits to sowing flowering seed mixes close to crops, including increased crop yields and a reduction in the need for pesticides – find out more.
Choosing the right mix
There are many flowering seed mixes available, but you need to make sure you choose one that attracts the right pollinators and pest enemies for your specific crop.
Read our five steps to choosing and preparing farmland sites for flowering seed mixes as well as managing the areas effectively after sowing.
Can flowering seed mixes fit with an integrated approach?
You can use flowering seed mixes in field margins or other areas of farmland to support your Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Flowering seed mixes can also serve a range of other purposes on the farm.
The information on using flowering seed mixes to improve farmland biodiversity was orginally authored by Dr David George, Dr Jennifer Banfield-Zanin, Prof. Felix Wäckers.