AGRICULTURE & STEWARDSHIP:
FARMING WITH WILDLIFE
Contact us for:
more information about our initiatives on farms as well as partner initiatives
a free farm visit from a local biologist to learn more about wildlife and habitats on your property
an assessment of wildlife habitat values on your property
information, support, and assistance in improving habitats on your property
information on how to become a Wildlife Habitat Steward
Clean water : plants in natural areas help filter sediments and pollutants out of water
Flood control : Wetlands act as sponges, slowing flood water and giving that water a chance to enter groundwater.
Bank stability : Plant roots help slow water and anchor soil in stream banks, slowing and even preventing erosion.
Soil retention & erosion control: trees and shrubs provide a natural protection against wind and dust. These buffers play a valuable role in erosion control and soil retention as the plants' roots hold soil in place.
Homes for pollinators and beneficial insects : retaining natural areas on your farm will help ensure pollinators, beneficial insects and wildlife have a home.
Frost Protection: wetlands provide frost protection, which can protect tree fruits in early spring. Water in ponds, creeks, and wetlands helps regulate temperature around them, which can reduce fruit loss in "frost pockets"
WHAT DO NATURAL AREAS DO FOR YOU?
Wildlife provides many benefits to agricultural properties including pollination, composting of organics to provide nutrients for crops, filtration of water and pest management. Further, keeping strips of native plants along creeks and rivers can help with flood and erosion control.
Enhancing and conserving natural biodiversity can often increase productivity of farms by encouraging pollinators and beneficial predatory insects. Agricultural properties, in turn, can provide valuable habitat for the region's wildlife while taking advantage of the benefits that stewardship of wild areas provides.
Natural areas can also reduce the need for pesticides because native plants attract beneficial insects and other wildlife that eat agricultural pests and also help with pollination.
Native plants attract native pollinators, which are considered more efficient pollinators than regular honeybees (Farming for Bees, Xerces Society 2015). Effective pollination is essential for many local crops and is vital to producing one-third of all the food we eat.
Native bees are estimated to contribute 1.2 billion dollars per year to the value of Canadian crop yields. In addition, many pollinators, such as hover flies, wasps, and lacewings, are also
voracious predators of unwanted insects.
Pesticides can be a very effective tool to manage insect pests, but can kill off useful predators as well as pests creating ever increasing needs for pesticides.
SUSTAINABLE PEST MANAGEMENT & BENEFICIAL WILDLIFE
Farming is an important land use and major contributor to the economy in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Farmers are stewards of important wildlife habitat, and have a critical role in conservation and stewardship. Sustainable agriculture in the region can benefit both natural capital as well as the farm.
Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship provides assistance and support to landowners, including farmers, who contribute to wildlife habitat stewardship, conservation and restoration while still maintaining agricultural production on their properties. Participation is voluntary, no rights are lost- what we do is try to find solutions that benefit both your farm as well as wildlife that may use it.
Some best management practices
(Click to view full size)
Original artwork by Dianne Bersea
For more Living in Nature guides, check out the Resources column
Encouraging Beneficial Wildlife:
Keep strips of native trees and shrubs
Establish a buffer zone with native plants. A buffer zone is a wide strip of plants between sensitive habitats and pasture/cropland. They provide places to find food and shelter for wildlife, including endangered species and pollinators. Vegetation buffers are recommended to be 30 m wide by provincial Riparian Areas Regulation. Check out our guide: "Caring for Your Shoreline" for ideas!
Use local, native plants
Consider planting clumps of native flowering plants and adding water sources to enhance habitat for pollinators. Many local native plants, like yarrow, are suitable for planting between rows and in buffers.
Check out our guide: "Attracting Native Pollinators" for ideas.
All wildlife, from bighorn sheep to snakes, need to move around the landscape. Leaving habitat corridors on your property can help reduce human conflict and road mortality by allowing wildlife to move safely between larger areas of habitat and wintering dens.