Hey farmer, leave them weeds alone

By Nina Jungman

Blair Kleiman

Farmers have spent much of the last century figuring out how to battle pests. Keeping weeds in agroecosystems may be the answer.

Recent years have seen a growing interest in earth-friendly pest control. A recent publication by Blaire Kleiman, an agroecology graduate student in the Department of Earth and Environment, points at the use of weeds as “insectary” plants – plants that attract insects.

This practice is becoming a popular way to keep beneficial insects on farms. Weeds provide nectar and floral resources to bees, wasps and butterflies and keep them within a field when crops are not flowering. Keeping these insects around allows farmers to increase crop yield, end herbicide use and increase the biological diversity of both plants and insects in farms.

This plant-insect ecological interactions research was recently published in the Journal of Research in Weed Science.