CANOLA growers on southern Yorke Peninsula are being encouraged to take part in research looking at the role native plants play in supporting pollination.
The project involves revegetation using the most suitable plants for YP’s pollinators, either by planting tubestock or direct seeding small plots adjacent to canola crops, and will be overseen by Trees for Life Direct Seeding and Carbon Program operations manager Dennis Hayles.
"Areas already with trees and large shrubs that may be suitable for understory planting, or bare areas not under cropping, such as fence lines or access track verges, would be ideal for this project," Mr Hayles said.
Planting design will be decided in collaboration with landholders and bee specialists, and dependent on the area of land available for planting.
University of Adelaide bee researcher Katja Hogendoorn has found that in addition to feral and hived honey bees, there are at least eight species of native bees known to pollinate canola crops on YP.
"Research conducted interstate and overseas has indicated that good pollination can increase canola value by 10 per cent to 15pc, through improved yield and quality," Dr Hogendoorn said.
"Native pollinators can reach high densities provided they have access to sufficient sources of pollen and nectar, both outside canola flowering time and in years of grain rotation, which do not provide bees with food."
Dr Hogendoorn said historic widespread clearance of native vegetation on Yorke Peninsula has reduced the quantity and diversity of floral resources for bees and is causing nutritional deficiencies in the landscape, which reduces bee numbers.
"Diversity of flowering plants, both in space and over time, enhances bee health and free pollination services,” she said.
"Planting native plants that provide bees with a variety of pollen and nectar will increase the health of all bee species across the YP.
"This will also help us to prepare for the foreseen incursion of the Varroa mite, which will decimate free pollination by feral honey bee populations, as has already occurred overseas."
The research is supported by AgriFutures Australia through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Program.
- Details: For more information contact Dennis Hayles of Trees for Life on 08 8406 0500 or firstname.lastname@example.org