I am going to check the number of insects in a two foot
square area of lawn that has not been treated for the last
seven years, and compare it to a similar area from a lawn
that has been treated for the last seven years.
The soil will also be sifted to find worms etc.
My question is this, how do I check these areas of turf
for insects ?
If a thread like this or indeed further discussion on the LJN could set some standards for carrying out such 'on the ground' surveys it would be a huge bonus - not just to the industry but much wider.
Kevin Barnett said:
Hmmmm civic science.
Firstly ensure that a comparison is made like for like. Ensure you know what the soil texture and structure is, record the pH. What is the flora and what is the grass mix. What was the chemical treatment that has been made for the last seven years. what lawn care regime has been undertaken. I note that the has been no scarification - not exactly confidence boosting to say that it is a more healthy lawn that that treated with ' chemicals' as yet unknown.
If you want to conduct a 'civic science' scientific experiment, at least conduct it under some controlled conditions, unbiased and with an open mind.
I think the beauty of this test as Pip has pointed out, is that
it can easily be done around the country by LJN members.
I am still looking into the best way of conducting the test, as
other factors may have to be taken into consideration, like the time
of year. At the moment in Devon the ground is fairly waterlogged, so
yet another factor to think about - how long after it has dried ?
At certain times of the year insect lavae start to metamorphosize, then they
hatch out and fly off, - so perhaps more than one test per garden is required.
The idea that a good lawn is one that is perfectly manicured may not be a belief held
be everyone, the organic lawn I will be testing does have some weeds growing in it, but
the owner of the property is happy that her grandchildren can run around bare foot
knowing that there are not any harmful chemicals lying around. It is a big plus to her, as
is the sound of the song thrushes in trees and the sight of the hedgehogs.
Top tips on Comfrey fert from todays Gardenersw Question Time:
It is very high in phosphates so is best suited to tomatoes, sweet peas etc etc.
To make it a more balanced feed add Borrage and nettles to the brew.
If when diluted it is darker than your p**s then dilute it further !
David Cox said:
I have about 18 plants on my allotment, And I harvest them 3-4 times a summer with my Mower - just run over, bag and put in a sealed plastic drum. The nice finely chopped leaves disapear in the water in 7-14 days. Drum is usually half full, so about 75 liters.
Liquid is black, smells just a little, not much, and is very watery - runs through a sprayer fine.
Area is about 2-3ft wide and 12ft long.
Worth noting, despite what many say, after a few years the comfrey loses its vigour - I have been informed by experienced allotmenteers that the harvesting of the comfrey rapidly drains the soil of nitrogen. Simple to top up (if you know what I mean - *Ahem* gentlemen).
I have a further 20 plants under my hedge at home which are this years babies, will be treated the same - I want more as it really perks up Bedding plants, and a foliar spray seems to rid Roses of Aphids.
I dont have pics sadly, but last year the butternut squash's grown with a comfrey watering (Single feeding, at the time of flowering) were comfortably 50% larger across the board, with some double the size, than the non treated ones.
Peter Woolnough said:
Do you produce your own comfrey?
If so how many plants do you have to cover what area you have, just so that i could get an idea on how to scale up or down to suit the ground we have and i will give it a go.
Surely Jim you meant to type high in potash not phosphates
I did indeed !
Thanks Rose, I have put a post on the I spot forum,
Rose Lennard said:
interesting thread, hope you will let us know the results! But it will be difficult to compare the no-chemical lawn with a chemically treated one because of the problem of controlling the other factors - soil, microclimate, proximity to other areas of rich habitat, site use and compaction etc.
I used to work with some entomologists who used 'pitfall' traps to study creepy crawlies. You need to be a real expert to id them all though! What about going on the i-spot site and getting some advice there? there are some very knowledgeable and helpful experts on the site.
Also lots of postings about organic feeds for lawns, giving lovely thick green swards. Which is great if that is what you are after, but you'll only get a really biodiverse lawn where the fertility is lower so that the grass doesn't thrive so much that it crowds out more delicate herbaceous wildflowers, and of course the mini-beasts will be more diverse if the flora is more diverse. I have a pretty rubbish lawn on a poor sandy soil; one year I let it grow long and had a lovely flowering display from selfheal, trefoils, white clover, daisies - but not to everyone's taste!
Yes, but the test using this bit of equipment takes a week and is not suitable
for a large area of turf, or possibly turf of any size with soil attached.
There has to be an easier quicker way of doing this. I think I will dig up
bit of turf and see what I can come up with.
- Perhaps the leaf blower might come in useful.
Rose Lennard said:
I have an ethical dilemma.
Would it be wrong to blast the insects into a scrunched up roll of garden
fleece using a leaf blower knowing that some might die in the process.
I have decided to check an area 1/2 m by 1/2 m, so not a great lose to the
I have an employee who's indignation to this, has been well vocalised. The same
employee who walks at least ten miles each weekend through the countryside, probably
stepping on and killing more each week than my one test will do :)
I cannot set up a structure that will take one week to deliver the results, and if this test is
to be done by others around the country then it needs to be quick and simple.
The test will be done at a number of gardens that use chemical treatments,( moss treatments,
herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers) on their lawns, and a number of gardens that don't.
The first step is to see what we find, and from there further tests can be conducted if necessary.
For instance, if there is very little difference then I probably would not do any more tests.
But if there is a vast difference leaning towards the untreated lawns then a more scientific approach
will be needed in future tests. Don't forget we are talking about the biodiversity of the lawn area, and
its benefit to the ecosystem as a whole, not specifically creatures that will just benefit the lawn.
Kevin Barnett said:
It seems your employee understands more about this than yourself. A simple test perhaps yes, a quick test perhaps no! What seasonality factors are out taking into account. Can you identify the bugs your going to blow out, will they be beneficial, non beneficial ? Lacewing larvae, wireworms ?
You still have not specified what chemicals you consider to be harmful.
There is an enormous amount of information to be considered other than just lifting a piece of turf , shaking or blowing it then counting the amount of insects etc that fall out to judge how ' healthier it is'
I'm looking forward to reading the gathered, analysed information.