Insect and plant ecology

Did you know that 80 % of the food in a normal grocery is dependent on bumblebees and bees? But the critical pollinators are massively decreasing in Sweden and in the world since they can’t adapt to today’s farming systems.

There is today a shortage of food and nesting patches for pollinators such as bumble bees and bees.

There is today a shortage of food and nesting patches for pollinators such as bumble bees and bees.

The Issue

There is a shortage of food and nesting patches for pollinators such as bumble bees and bees. A major contributing factor is that today’s conventional farming systems use large monocultures that lack variations in plants and weeds. Pesticides can also be devastating for pollinators. The pollinators play a crucial part in maintaining plant communities in nature and the crop production and horticulture in farming, since they contribute to the plants’ fertilization. A third of the wild bees are threatened today according to the Swedish Species Information Centre.

The Solution

Research shows that the number of pollinators in an area increases and thus also the produce, if so called insect and plant ecology zones are established along the fields. These are zones with flowering plants next to fields or other areas. The plants give the pollinators a protected space where they can work and find food. A positive side effect with insect and plant ecology zones is that they can also prevent nutrient runoffs to adjacent water courses, since these zones can pick up the nutrients running off the fields.

Establishing insect and plant ecology zones can increase the number of pollinators.

Establishing insect and plant ecology zones can increase the number of pollinators.

Our Work

Axfoundation tests actual insect and plant ecology zones at Torsåker farm. The aim is to see if the zones can increase the number of pollinators and if growing the right kind of flowers can favor the right predatory insects which in turn reduces the number of pests. If harvests can increase by favoring pollinators and how we can choose flowers that also give an extra income to the farmers, for example; wild thyme, wild garlic and mustard will also be looked at. The mix we have used in our insect and plant ecology zones consists of; blue tansy, alfalfa, meadow fescue, Timothy-grass, ryegrass, red clover, white clover, red fescue, chicory, crimson clover, Persian clover, alsike clover and so on.

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