Last month NACC NRM’s Perenjori based Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator Lizzie King met with researchers from the University of Queensland and talked all things insects.
Specifically, the pollination dynamics found between agricultural and native vegetation and the importance of wild pollinators for the conservation of native plants residing in large-scale agricultural landscapes.
As the research project also looks into how crop pollination is impacted by growing conditions, landscape structure and climate change worldwide, talk soon turned to the increased media coverage highlighting the huge loss of insects on earth.
A scientific paper published earlier this year looked at worldwide decline of the entomofauna (the insects of an environment or region) and presented a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assessed the underlying drivers. This work revealed dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades – with pollinating species among the most at under threat.
There are a number of contributing factors but unfortunately intensive agriculture, urbanisation, and pollution – including from synthetic pesticides and fertilisers – account for just over a third of this loss.
The scientific paper recommends a rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a significant reduction in pesticide usage and substituting these substances with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices. This is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, and allow the recovery of declining insect populations and to safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide.
Lizzie said that these examples of so-called “ecological engineering” help to favour pollinators (which in turn can help boost crop yields) and also conserve the beneficial insects that are essential for keeping pest species at bay.
Lizzie added ‘the first step in actively managing pests in your crop is to know exactly what they are. “My Pest Guide” is a great resource available and can help you identify pests on your farm.”
Ms King concluded by saying ‘the increase of biodiversity and on-farm vegetation is integral in maintaining our precious pollinator population. As usual there is no silver bullet solution, and there are a range of decisions which can help reduce this decline.’
If you would like more information please get in contact with our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitators Lizzie King (E) [email protected] or (P) 0447 361 335 and Annabelle Garratt (E) [email protected] or (P) 0448 986 879.
“Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers”