We are exploring how adding more species of plants to a farm (increasing its above-ground biodiversity) affects the crop productivity and environmental effects of farming

Above-Ground Biodiversity in Context

  • Native grasses and wildflower plantings can have beneficial effects on the farm
  • These effects may include pollination, pest and weed control, soil carbon storage, better water-holding capacity, erosion control, prevention of nitrogen leaching, and soil restoration

How we look at above-ground biodiversity

We are investigating several ways to increase biodiversity along its farm edges, by planting:

  • Vegetated swales and canals: which help improve the quality of stormwater runoff
  • Native grasses: which attract local pollinators and provide habitat for ground-nesting mammals and birds
  • Forbs: which attract local pollinators
  • Hedgerows: which attract more pollinators, can be an extra source of income (if providing fruits, nuts or wood), and can help improve water and air quality

Featured Research Projects

  • California wildflowers and native bees
  • graph of bee populationUC Davis researchers Neal Williams and Kimiora Ward are testing how different mixes of native California wildflowers attract native bees without attracting pests.

    The researchers have found that wildflower mixes attracted up to ten times more native bees than control plots of typical weedy vegetation. 

    Ongoing work, started in 2010, is testing these wildflowers with different management systems at the Ranch to design methods that growers can use to successfully establish native wildflowers on their farms. 

    To learn more about this research, read the Williams’ lab’s 2015 article in Ecological Applications.
  • Building milkweed habitat for monarch butterflies
  • Coming soon