Farming with Beneficial Insects Workshop
ASWCD staff attended The Xerces Society's Farming with Beneficial for Pest Control Short Course this week in Greenwood, South Carolina. Below is an article Greenwood Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, Brian Stoddard wrote about his experience at the same workshop. Thanks Brian for submitting this wonderful article to the Index-Journal. Aiken Soil and Water Conservation District hopes to host a similar workshop in Aiken County in the near future. Would you be interested in attending? Let us know!
Getting up close and personal with some of the insects while outside scouting.
Greenwood residents had the opportunity in late June to engage in some hands-on learning at the SC Farming with Beneficial Insects short course. The course took place on Tuesday, June 26 at 9 a.m. in the Greenwood County Veterans Center and was sponsored by Southern SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education). The event served as an opportunity to inform farmers and horticulturalists around the state about the different benefits of pollinating species and organic methods of agriculture.
The course was led by City Horticulturalist Ann Barklow, State Biologist Sudie Thomas, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist Nancy Adamson, Clemson Extension Agent Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, and Forest Health Coordinator David Jenkins. Conservationists, horticulturalists, and master gardeners from all over the state gathered to learn more about pollinators. The group ranged from federal, state, and city employees to private landowners and gardeners.
Nancy Adamson spoke first on various types of invasive plants and their unique roles in horticulture. Due to their dominant nature, plants such as wisteria, periwinkle, and nandina can reduce biodiversity in the environment by taking over all other plant life in the area around it.
“It’s not that a lot of people don’t care about invasive species,” Adamson said of gardeners who grow invasive species for aesthetic purposes. “It’s more that they don’t know. So, you guys can play a big role in educating others.”
Adamson also informed the group about the different types of biological control—which is the act of releasing non-native species to control a nuisance species. She also stated that not all stinging insects are pests, and we should refrain from spraying pesticides on all wasp and bee colonies.
“There is a lot of fear these days around stinging insects,” Adamson said. “If wasps or bees are around flowers, they have nothing to protect. Solitary wasps or bees have nothing to defend, so they are significantly less likely to sting.
Clemson extension agent from Charleston Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris discussed predator-prey relations and how to safely manage insects in order to efficiently utilize their pollinating qualities.
Numerous shadow boxes were passed around while Schmidt-Jeffris informed the group of the role of each insect—even the most frightening ones.
Schmidt-Jeffris said “If you’ve got a yellow jacket nest, unless it’s in a place with a lot of traffic, just leave it.”
As a field experiment, the group trekked outside to the surrounding gardens to capture and identify the insects being discussed in the seminar. The attendees were able to observe the pollinators at work in their natural habitat.
David Jenkins also spoke to the group about the role of pollinators in the forestry industry. He discussed practices that promote forest health and pests that are detrimental to a forest ecosystem. Sudie Thomas spoke about the many insects she works with and manages as a state biologist, stressing the importance of wildlife habitat management.
To conclude the seminar, the group travelled to Metts Organix Farms, owned by Will Metts, to observe sustainable methods of agriculture and pest control. Metts recounted his journey to becoming an organic farmer to the group. Years of trial and error enabled him to develop his craft into the full-functioning business it is today. To learn more about Metts Organix, please visit http://mettsorganix.farm/.
For more information on the SC Farming with Beneficial Insects Short Course, Nancy Adamson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.