South Australian horticultural and agricultural producers are being urged to plant more native vegetation in a bid to protect the billion-dollar industry from pollination decline.
Most crops produced in Australia rely on pollination from bees; however our bee population is now under threat, mainly because they cannot find enough food in our increasingly cleared landscapes.
Under a multi-million dollar four-year research project managed by AgriFutures Australia, ‘Securing Pollination for More Productive Agriculture: Guidelines for effective pollinator management and stakeholder adoption’, Trees For Life is working with University of Adelaide researchers to find out what native plants work best for pollinators of different crops and how they can be planted to help increase yields.
“We know that crop pollination can be improved by revegetation that supports pollinators on or around farms. It’s a strategy used in major horticultural regions in Europe and the US, but not yet in Australia,” says project co-leader Dr Katja Hogendoorn, from the University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.
This is the first such project in Australia – expected to be a win-win for both producers and our environment, with greater yields through improved pollination and increased biodiversity through revegetation with native plants.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide are mapping the activity of honeybees and native pollinators in crops, areas of revegetation and native vegetation around different crops in South Australia. Two initial regions are Yorke Peninsula for canola and Keith for lucerne.
A demonstration site in Lenswood adjacent an organic apple farm will also be established this winter.
As well as boosting honey bee colonies and improving native vegetation, it is hoped the project could also help future proof against disease and pests like Varroa.
Trees For Life is one of South Australia’s leading environmental organisations and is committed to helping local primary producers get the best out of their crops, stock and land through revegetation using native species.
Each year between May and August the organisation offers native species for 42 different zones throughout the State, ensuring indigenous seedlings are specifically suited to the different regions. The species include trees, shrubs, grasses and groundcovers – many of which are recommended to attract pollinators.
These include: Christmas Bush (Bursaria spinosa), Native Scurf-pea (Cullen australasicum), Erect Hakea (Hakea carinata), River Bottle-brush (Callistemon sieberi), Silver Banksia
(Banksia marginata), Narrow-leaved Mallee (Eucalyptus leptophylla), Pink gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa), and Melaleuca acuminata (Mallee Honey-Myrtle).
Landholders can now order bulk native seedlings through Trees For Life’s Tree Scheme Program at highly subsidised rates.
For a species list specific to your zone, or more information, visit treesforlife.org.au or phone (08) 8406 0500.
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