Farmers could help control crop pests by encouraging spider populations, according to new research.
Scientists found that growing wildflowers on non-crop buffer strips of grass increased spider numbers, which feed on crop pests like aphids.
However the research also showed that simply planting wildflower seeds into existing grass buffer strips is not enough, because grasses already dominate the area. To encourage wildflowers to grow, the researchers cultivated the grass strips before planting wildflower seeds, and used a selective herbicide that reduces grass growth.
The technique provides farmers with a low-cost way to improve the biodiversity of their land, without the need to plant new buffer strips.