Dark edged bee fly (Bombylius major) on cowslip

Insect pollinators are crucial for UK agriculture, enabling vital crop pollination for increased yields and quality. Crops like apples, pears, and oilseed rape rely on bees, butterflies, and more. With billions in economic contribution, conserving these pollinators through habitat preservation and reduced pesticides is essential for sustained agricultural success and biodiversity.

 

Insect pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, play a critical role in UK agriculture by facilitating the pollination process. This process is essential for the reproduction of various crops, resulting in improved crop yields and better fruit quality. Key crops like apples, pears, strawberries, and oilseed rape heavily rely on these pollinators for successful reproduction. The economic impact of insect pollination in the UK agricultural sector is substantial, with hundreds of millions of pounds attributed to pollination in crop production. This underscores their importance in sustaining future food production.

In addition to their economic importance, pollinators enhance crop diversity, promote biodiversity, and ensure ecosystem stability within agricultural landscapes. By fostering genetic diversity among plant populations, pollinators contribute to the resilience of agricultural systems, helping them better withstand environmental changes. The interaction between pollinators and crops also extends beyond agriculture, as healthy pollinator populations contribute to wildlife habitats and ecosystem services.

Conservation efforts focused on pollinators are crucial for ensuring the continued success of UK agriculture. These efforts involve creating and maintaining pollinator-friendly habitats, reducing pesticide usage, and raising awareness about the indispensable role of pollinators among farmers, policymakers, and the public. Protecting pollinator populations is not only vital for crop production but also for safeguarding the sustainability and resilience of the entire agricultural sector. Continued research in this area will allow for greater understanding of the role of pollinators in agricultural systems and how improving their resilience whilst maintaining productivity can be achieved. 

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Integrated Pest Management highlights the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms. IPM is one of the tools for low-pesticide-input pest management, and IPM must now be implemented by all professional agchem users.

Regenerative farming looks to optimise the use of the ecological system and environment, in order to benefit from the natural ecosystem services that they provide.

This strategy sets out DEFRA's 10 year plan to help pollinating insects survive and thrive. Published in 2014.

It has been reported that up to 95% of all flowering plants require the services of other organisms to move pollen from male to female flower parts during the pollination process. These organisms, including bees, are collectively known as pollinators. However, in light of the growing evidence of global declines in pollinator species, the management, ecology and conservation of wild and managed pollinators is a subject of growing importance and research activity.

This chapter provides an overview of the history of pollination biology, it begins by discussing the basics of pollination and goes on to discuss pollinators and their diversity. Sections also cover the ecology and evolution of floral traits, domestication and its impact on plant-pollinator relationships and how pollinators can impact agriculture. A section on modern agriculture and pollinators is also provided.

Agricultural intensification, or the increase in crop production per unit of input or land area to meet the needs of a growing population, has resulted in a landscape dominated by large scale monoculture cropping. Pollinators, specifically, are impacted by the lack of diverse floral and habitat resources associated with this type of farming. Agriculture must develop practices that diversify the crop landscape and increase the availability of habitat and flowering resources to support these populations. In this chapter, we summarize the available literature on how the production space, i.e., within a crop production field, orchard, or pasture, can be more effectively managed to sustain pollinator populations. We report on various spatial and temporal approaches within the context of various cropping systems (row crops, specialty crops, perennial orchards, and perennial forage and pasture systems). Collectively, these approaches represent opportunities to re-introduce diversity into the agricultural landscape to benefit pollinators.

Wikifarmer and Promote Pollinators have gathered 5 experts from around the world as well as top institutions, to present the importance of pollinators and Integrated Pest Management at the farm level.

Join us at NIAB East Malling to learn from industry experts about the importance of water management, precision irrigation and managing on-farm habitats for nature.

Bees for Development practical management tips for different areas of your land, to help encourage wild flower species and pollinators.

Produced as part of the BEESPOKE Project, aimed at increasing levels of pollinators at local and landscape scales.

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