Variety of margins important to boosting farmland bees

Written by William Kellett from Agriland

Creating cultivated margins on your farm can support otherwise-threatened wild bees, according to a new study by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

Scientists from the charity spent two years studying different margins across the south, midlands and east of England to measure the number of bees and hoverflies using them.

While the floristically enhanced grass margins available through agri-environment schemes proved beneficial to bumblebees, the plants offered less support to solitary bees.

The findings show that cultivated margins, created by leaving narrow strips of shallow ploughed land to regrow from seeds left in the soil, provide excellent habitat for solitary bees.

Dandelions, cow parsley and ox-eye daisy all proved popular with solitary bees and could provide to boost to their recovery.

With a third of the UK’s pollinating insects declining between 1980 and 2013, farmers are increasingly encouraged to help their recovery.

It’s an important issue, as pollinators are critically important to plants worldwide, with around 75% of global food crop types dependant on them.

Almost half of the leading crops are pollinated by at least one wild bee species.

“It might seem unusual to farmers, but tolerating some weeds in their margins could make a real difference to the species that thrive on them”, said Dr Niamh Hugh, head of the Farmland Ecology unit at the GWCT.

“Species such as spear thistle, birds-foot trefoil, ox-eye daisy, cow parsley and beaked hawk’s-beard will support many common bumblebee species as well as hoverflies.”

As cultivated margins are favoured by solitary bees and floristically enhanced margins are favoured by bumblebees, for the maximum benefit to wild pollinators, the GWCT advocates that both habitats should be provided where possible

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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...