Wild and grassy field edges are a common sight across Ontario. Many farmers keep the edges of their fields growing wild with grass, trees, wildflowers, or even old fence lines in place marking the boundaries of the field.
Did you know this is actually a sustainable practice that protects Ontario’s soil health?
Farmers rely on this field border or windbreak for numerous reasons. Field borders help encourage plant diversity and provide wildlife habitats for all sorts of Ontario wildlife! Birds, pollinators, rabbits, small mammals, foxes and turkeys can make their homes within these field edges. Furthermore, parasites and pests of grain crops can actually get “trapped” within these spaces and limit the spread of disease spores, harmful bacteria and harmful insects between grain fields!
For example, this means if a soybean field has an aphid infestation and there is a windbreak of trees and wild grass between that neighbouring fields, it can help slow the spread of the aphids, and allow #YourFarmers to not rely on expensive pesticides to stop the aphids from eating the soybeans.
Field borders can also help prevent water and wind soil erosion and can protect local water quality by trapping soil particles and potential pollutants within the boundary space. And in some cases, windbreaks planted around a field boundary can help prevent wind and snow buildup on roads, near homes and into farmyards.
Who would have thought a field border can be so beneficial to the Ontario environment thanks to Ontario grain farmers! Not only does planting and leaving the edges of the fields to have so many benefits to keep Ontario soil healthy for growing grains, but there are also many benefits for the neighbouring ecosystems and environments.