Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Multiple wetlands and solitary bees

While the main focus of the Water Friendly Farming project is combining improved food production with improved water quality and control, we are also surveying birds and pollinating insects at some sites.  There is increasing evidence that wild bees can increase yields of our main break crops, and our own research at Loddington has revealed similar benefits in terms of fruit production.  Our surveys in the School Farm demonstration catchment at Loddington have illustrated the association of solitary bees with hedges and woodland edges, while bumblebees were recorded mainly in wild bird seed mixtures and grass margins that contained flowering plants.
Wet mud being gathered for nest building                                 © C Stoate

Across a 2,000 ha landscape within the Water Friendly Farming project, we have created a series of field edge wetlands with grass and wild flower mixtures sown on their banks.  We might expect this combination of woody hedgerow habitat with sheltered banks of flowering plants, open water and wet mud, to provide nesting material and sites as well as foraging habitats for many of the pollinating insects that support both naturally occurring and commercially grown plants.  Survey work currently being carried out by Ecologist, John Szczur will reveal to what extent this is the case.

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