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Wayne L. Schrader, Karen L. Robb and Valerie J. Mellano

The viability of urban interface agriculture (located near housing tracts, shopping centers, roadways, schools, and parks) depends on the ability of growers to allow their neighbors to enjoy the full benefits of their property. Growers must eliminate or minimize the noise, dust, flies, spray drift, odors, and field worker improprieties that can be associated with agricultural enterprises. An excellent way to minimize “ag/urban interface” problems is to grow a protective border planting between housing and agricultural production fields. Border plantings increase the aesthetic value of agricultural open spaces and screen out unwanted agricultural activities for those living adjacent to production areas. An ideal protective barrier planting consists of plants that 1) grow quickly and are easy to maintain; 2) provide a good physical barrier to dust, spray, and noise; 3) are inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing; 4) do not harbor insect pests that would damage crops or surrounding landscape plantings; and 5) support beneficial insects that prey on crop insect pests. Border planting sites were developed to identify plants that are adapted to border planting use and to gather information on insect populations that are supported by those plantings. Early results indicate that native plants including coyote bush, wild lilac, buckwheat, coffeeberry, yarrow, deer grass, and purple-needle grass can provide the desired physical barrier and beneficial insect support. Bio-diversity is the key to increasing populations of beneficial insects and several different native plant species have, therefore, been incorporated into the border plantings. Beneficial insect populations have been increased with appropriate border plantings.

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Heather S. Costa, Julie Newman and Karen L. Robb