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How can I create FAB?

Due to its perennial nature the orchard is a particular habitat for many plants, animals, fungi and microbes.  But orchard management affects these organisms and certainly the removal of unwanted vegetation, the use of pesticides and the selection of cultivars, training of trees and soil fertilization change the occurrence and composition of these species in the orchard.  As many of them are parts of functional agrobiodiversity (FAB), they deliver free ecosystem services which are needed for healthy fruit production. The grower can support maintenance and promotion of these beneficial organisms by many available FAB-techniques. These can be assigned to the three following categories:

  • Dynamic agricultural practices: e.g. monitor pests and beneficials, reduce pesticide use as much as possible and select plant protection products with less non-target effects, adapt vegetation management by alternate interrow mowing,  annual flower strips and edges, improve soil conditions by cover crops.

  • Creation of semi-natural ecological infrastructures: e.g. hedgerows, perennial interrow-flower strips, elements for breeding and hibernation, fallows around the orchard. These deliver all necessary SNAP-resources (Shelter & Nectar & Alternative prey & Pollen) for many beneficial organisms.

  • System (re-)design: e.g. use of resistant cultivars, diversification of crops, agroforestry, animal introduction.

You can find results of scientific studies on these FAB-techniques in our literature collection and more practical reports underOrchard alive!”. Very practical advice can also be found in the brochure "Habitat manipulation" published by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences which can be downloaded here.

We also recommend the following "Ideabook on Functional Biodiversity at the Farm Level" (Boller et al., 2004). Find here a preview, you can order it via the following website: https://www.iobc-wprs.org/pub/index.html#books

In the EcoOrchard-project, we focus on the management of vegetation and floral diversity in apple orchards. In the following we explain in more detail why this is of fundamental importance for creating FAB in the orchard and how it can be done. 

Inter-row flower strip in the orchard

Annual flower strips at the edge of the orchard

Pile of stones as hiding and overwintering place

Nesting box for birds