Crop Protection and Applied Practice
Crop & Soil Systems
Pollination by insects has been identified as an important ecosystem service with considerable benefits to both yield and economic return of arable crops. In oilseed rape, Brassica napus, studies have shown that insect pollination can potentially contribute to an increase of 25% in yield when compared with self and wind pollination alone. Recent findings have indicated a worldwide decline in species richness and abundance of insect pollinators such as wild bees, hoverflies and honeybees and such declines may have economic consequences to crop yield in terms of volume and quality and poses a genuine threat to global food security.
Agricultural intensification, such as increased field sizes and loss of natural and semi-natural habitats have been identified as a major threat to pollinating insects although little is known of the influence that variety selection has. With gross output being a major determining factor involved with the selection process, it may well come at a cost to the resources available to insect pollinators.
This research will contribute towards evaluating oilseed rape varieties with respect to their value to insect pollinators and increase our understanding of the relationship between resource availability, pollinator communities and pollination success. It will determine whether certain varietal characteristics are preferable to pollinator assemblages and if these characteristics are more robust to future challenges.
This project will attempt to evaluate the role that oilseed rape variety has on pollinator communities, with focus on their value as a forage resource. It will investigate the relationship between this resource, landscape characteristics and pollinator abundance and species-richness and the value in terms of yield. Finally, it will determine whether there are varietal differences in respect to phenological synchrony between peak flowering periods and pollinator emergence across a range of oilseed rape varieties.
Oilseed rape and pollinators: the impact of variety on resource availability and pollinator resilience
Dr Andy Evans (SRUC)
Dr Lorna Cole (SRUC)
Dr Gail Jackson (University of Edinburgh)
Address: Crop & Soil Systems, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG
Telephone: 0131 535 4222