The BIOS project is underway! CAFF’s Ecological Farming team has been busy the past several weeks setting up the Biologically Integrated Orchards Systems (BIOS) project at six demonstration sites located in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. We are excited to get this project’s field work off the ground by setting up mating disruption for codling moth and navel orangeworm. On the six farms, located from as far north as Gridley down to Ripon, CA, CAFF will monitor the effectiveness of mating disruption for these key pests compared to the farms’ usual pest management practices. Additional monitoring for spider mites and predatory insects will soon take place as part of a biological control experiment on three of the orchards with cover crops, which were planted in fall of 2020.
Using aerosol “puffer” dispensers and hanging plastic strip dispensers, different orchards will demonstrate various mating disruption methods that are available for codling moth and navel orangeworm. For the team, set up techniques also differed from farm to farm – from hanging the dispensers from a truck bed with extendable polls, to getting some air using pruning towers!
Other updates from the Ecological Farming Program: biomass sampling in cover crops
We also welcomed the chance to get in the field by taking biomass samples of cover crops in several nut orchards as part of our Healthy Soils Demonstration project. “Why take cover crop samples?”, you might ask. Since we’re also looking at how cover crops can impact physical and biological soil properties, including soil carbon levels, as well as water infiltration rate, being able to measure the actual “cover” and plant matter from the cover crop is an important piece of information. It can also be used to estimate the amount of nitrogen the cover crop will supply the cash crop.