With the recent arrival of rain across the region and the end of seeding nearing closer, we think the time is apt to start thinking about this year’s (hopefully bumper) crop. While we’re not quite at the flowering stage for our crop species yet, new research reminds us of the importance of pollinators in the system.
Mariana Paola Mazzei, a researcher, specializing in crop pollination, and her collaborators have conducted research in Argentina, testing if canola plants have a better yield when they are close to semi-natural areas. Their study found that these areas have more pollinators present. They looked at how pollinators affected different aspects of canola production, including the total number of fruits, seeds per pod, and seed mass.
“Pollinating insects visit flowers to feed on nectar, pollen, or both,” Mazzei explains. “This flower-pollinator interaction allows pollen flow between flowers, carried on insects.”
Pollinators can help increase yield by putting a higher number of pollen grains on a flower. This means there will be more seeds produced per pod. Also, if more flowers per plant are fertilized, there will be more total seeds in a field.
Their results showed that the closeness of the crop to semi-natural habits can indeed increase the production of canola. The closer the canola was to the pollinators, the more the yield increased.
The research team offers up a smorgasboard of strategies for increasing the pollinator population on farm. With the most critical being to diversify the landscape to make it more welcoming to pollinators. Diversifying crop species themselves and avoiding unvarying monocultures is another strategy.
“These sites provide shelter, nesting sites, and different food items for the pollinators along the season,” says Mazzei. “The main policy recommendation to help crop pollination is having a minimum level of semi-natural habitats around crop plots.”
Creating a pollinator-friendly crop management plan is another strategy. This could include, for example, reducing chemical use or using chemicals at night or in the evening when pollinators are less likely to be affected.
The team’s research was recently shared in Crop Science, a journal of the Crop Science Society of America. You can read more about it here- https://www.agronomy.org/news/media-releases/releases/2021/0414/1290/?utm_source=miragenews&utm_medium=miragenews&utm_campaign=news and link to the article here- https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/csc2.20450
NACC NRM currently have incentives for increasing on-farm biodiversity. So if you are interested in beneficial bugs, providing habitat for pollinators or promoting pollinators on your property, get in touch with us!
For information about on-farm biodiversity incentives please contact NACC NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator Callum Love at [email protected] or 0438 989 500.
For more information get in touch with our RALF team.
Lizzie King (P) (08) 9973 1444 (E) [email protected] (M) 0447 361 335
Annabelle Garatt (P) (08) 9938 0100 (E) [email protected] (M) 0448 986 879