A new study1, from Lucas Garibaldi and co-workers, found that increased pollinator visitation makes an important contribution to closing yield-gaps worldwide.
With data from 344 field over three continent, Africa, Latin America and Asia, studied over 5 years, the authors analysed how flower visitation frequency and flower visitor diversity affected yield in 33 crop systems. They found that for fields less than 2 hectares, yield gaps could be closed by a median of 24% through higher flower-visitor density. For larger fields, such yield benefits were only present if these fields also had a high flower-visitor richness. The rest of the yield gap should be closed by a variety of techniques aiming at increasing efficiency of water and nutrient usage etc.
The study concludes that using ecological intensification to increase pollination services was most effective for small-holders. To increase pollinators in the landscape a combination of practices need to be used, as the effectiveness of each technique will be context dependent. Those can include; sowing flower strips2 and planting hedgerows, providing nesting resources, more targeted use of pesticides, and/or restoration of semi-natural and natural areas. By using pollination as a case study, the study showed that ecological intensification can benefit both biodiversity and crop yields worldwide.
1. Garibaldi LA, Carvalheiro LG, Vaissière BE, Gemmill-Herren B, Hipólito J, Freitas BM, Ngo HT, et al. 2016. Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms, Science 351: 338-391.
Go to the publication page of Lucas Garibaldi to find the publication and data.
2. Annelie M. Jönsson, Johan Ekroos, Juliana Dänhardt, Georg K.S. Andersson, Ola Olsson, Henrik G. Smith, 2015, Sown flower strips in southern Sweden increase abundances of wild bees and hoverflies in the wider landscape, Biological Conservation. 184: 51-58