Applied Farmscape Ecology

What is applied Farmscape ecology?

Farms are a mosaic of intensively managed areas (pastures, crop fields, hayfields) and wilder areas (hedgerows, forests, riparian areas). All these on-farm habitats affect wild creatures from small insects to native plants living around the farm. Farming plays a significant role in shaping our communities and livelihood. It affects our economy, our well-being, and the natural world, both on and off the farm. In turn, each farm operates within a cultural, economic, and ecological context which facilitates and limits farming options.

We have developed four key areas for the Applied Farmscape Ecology program to focus its efforts: research and demonstration, outreach and education, long-term monitoring and land stewardship.

Applied farmscape ecology explores the interactions between farming and wild nature by examining two related questions: How can on-farm habitat conservation or creation help support regional biodiversity? And, how can such conservation or creation contribute to farm production? These questions are critical to addressing declining trends in biodiversity and habitat loss as well as supporting and exploring systems of crop production which seek to maximize potential beneficial interactions between organisms and crops.

The Applied Farmscape Ecology Program at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub is ultimately a platform that invites us to observe, imagine, trial, share and listen to the needs and nuances of both agriculture and ecology. Our vision is of an agrarian landscape where humanity beholds wild nature, not as an unavoidable adversary, but rather with a respect that recognizes challenges and seeks synergies.

Key Initiatives

The work of the Applied Farmscape Ecology Research Collaborative is jointly coordinated by Farm Hub staff and the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program. The research collaborative includes partners from a number of regional colleges, universities and organizations. We work across disciplines, examining interactions between soil, water, microbes, invertebrates and vertebrates in the agricultural landscape as well as studying the value of agricultural lands for wildlife conservation. This includes documentation of on-farm biodiversity and its various roles for agricultural production. It also includes the development of techniques for managing on-farm habitats so as to support ecological services to the farm (e.g., pollination, pest control, carbon sequestration, soil health and erosion control) and the conservation of native biodiversity.

On-farm Stewardship & Habitat Management

We have begun developing land stewardship and habitat management guidelines for the farm in order to balance farming and biodiversity goals. This has required us to more fully integrate the values of the program into farm operations and our construction of new farm facilities. This includes activities such as guidance on timing and method of mowing for turtle and grassland bird conservation, planting of floodprone areas into semi-permanent seed mixes and the use of bird-friendly glass.

Long-term Monitoring

We are developing long-term historic data sets on plants, insects, birds, water quality, pest and disease pressure and soil health.

Education & Outreach

We host a number of public events and provide volunteer opportunities with the aim of learning from our neighbors and sharing what we have learned in our work. Some examples include hosting local bird walks, film screenings, research collaborative info sessions, and our annual twilight event featuring the Native Meadow Trial.

What's Next

  • Expand our educational programming and events and offer more programming in both English and Spanish.
  • Disseminate the research, data and knowledge acquired through printed materials, conferences, online and other avenues.
  • Expand and integrate existing research projects

Farmscape Ecology film

On June 16th, 2020, the Farm Hub hosted a virtual film premiere of the new short film Farmscape Ecology. The short film follows the work of the Farm Hub’s Applied Farmscape Ecology Research Collaborative. This is the third film that the Farm Hub has made with Oceans 8 Films as part of filmmaker Jon Bowermaster’s Hope on the Hudson series.

Resources

Contact

Anne Bloomfield, Applied Farmscape Ecology Program Manager, anne@hvfarmhub.org

Anne Bloomfield,
Applied Farmscape Ecology Program Manager, 
anne@hvfarmhub.org