Organic farming methods favors pollinators

September 14, 2018, Lund University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Pollinating insects are endangered globally, with a particularly steep decline over the last 40 years. An extensive 3-year study from Lund University in Sweden has found that organic farming methods can contribute to halting the pollinator decline. This beneficial effect is due to both the absence of insecticides and a higher provision of flower resources.

Organic farming is known to promote pollinator diversity in crop fields. However, it has also been suggested that organic fields might simply attract pollinators from other habitats in the landscape, and therefore not sustain their populations in the long run.

The 3-year field experiment, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research at Lund University, found that the number of bumblebee species in organic farms was higher and more stable over time and space than in .

"This is the first large-scale study over the course of several years to show that has a consistent, stabilizing effect on pollinator diversity," says Romain Carrié, a postdoctoral researcher at CEC.

Romain and his colleagues sampled bumblebees, butterflies and flowering plants throughout the growing season in 10 organic and 9 conventional farms in Scania, Sweden. Their study showed that, depending on the type of crop, the stabilizing effect was either due to a more stable provision of flowers or the absence of pesticides.

"An interesting result of our study is the fact that stable and abundant flower resources stabilizes pollinator communities, even in conventional farms where insecticides are used," explains Romain Carrié.

"This is strongly suggesting that both flower-enhancing management options and a reduced use of insecticides can help reverse pollinator declines," Romain Carrié concludes.

Explore further: Organic farming improves pollination success in strawberries

More information: Romain Carrié et al. Organic farming supports spatiotemporal stability in species richness of bumblebees and butterflies, Biological Conservation (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.08.022

Related Stories

Can solar energy save the bees?

August 6, 2018

In response to the population decline of pollinating insects, such as wild bees and monarch butterflies, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are investigating ways to use "pollinator-friendly ...

Recommended for you

Computing the origin of life

December 14, 2018

As a principal investigator in the NASA Ames Exobiology Branch, Andrew Pohorille is searching for the origin of life on Earth, yet you won't find him out in the field collecting samples or in a laboratory conducting experiments ...

Black widow spiders dial up posture for survival and sex

December 14, 2018

A new study led by Western University's Natasha Mhatre shows that body dynamics and posture are crucial to how black widow spiders decode the important vibrations that travel through their webs and up their legs. Black widows ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.