Invertebrates benefit agriculture in lots of different ways

Production benefits from invertebrates (other than pollination and natural pest control) are often overlooked in agroecosystems.  There has been much more focus on the impact of insect pests. But invertebrates provide lots of other benefits in production systems. Developing sustainable farming systems is an imperative for our future – sustainable systems are those that produce food and fibre, while also enhancing human well-being and supporting ecosystem function through ecologically-sound management.  Understanding how farms can be managed to enhance production via the benefits invertebrates provide is a key to sustainable agriculture. Continue reading

More than just bees

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her

William Wordsworth

While I was researching my last piece on the EU’s neonicotinoid ban I came across some quite surprising sentiments. The most unexpected was someone complaining about all “the fuss” over bees.

Of course, the benefits of the ban will not just be for bees. All pollinators are crucial to healthy natural ecosystems and the success of our own food production systems. Bees just happen to be the most productive pollinators, and the most recognisable to us, so they have unwittingly become a symbol for pollinators and beneficial insects in general.

Neonicotinoids obviously also have toxic effects on other insects (that’s why they were created). An important example is mayflies and caddisflies, which are ‘keystone’ indicator species in healthy freshwater ecosystems. They can also cause secondary outbreaks of pest species like mites, because the initial insecticide application killed all the other insects that could have kept the mites in check. Continue reading