Supporting and enhancing pollinators could help stabilize the production of important crops like oilseeds and fruit, reducing the sort of uncertainty that causes food price spikes, new research has shown.
Scientists at the University of Reading analyzed years of data on the poorly understood effect of pollinators on crop yield stability. They found there was 32% less variation in the yields of plants visited by bees and other pollinators than those grown in the absence of pollinators.
The study, published in the journal Ecology Letters, suggests that pollinators can help to mitigate supply issues and market shocks that cause global price spikes, like those being seen this year, by holding food supplies steady. The publication marks the start of Bees' Needs Week (18-24 July), a UK Government-led initiative championing pollinators and their benefits, and this year encouraging people to take five simple actions to support pollinators.
A launch event led by University of Reading scientists is taking place today (Monday 18 July) at the Tower of London, where a Superbloom attraction made up of 20 million wildflowers in the moat is on display to the public all summer. Dr. Jake Bishop, a crop science researcher at the University of Reading, who led the study, said: "Our findings suggest that preserving pollinators provides a double benefit, reducing fluctuations in food supplies as well as boosting supplies in the first place."
"Stable and predictable production of nutritious food is a necessity for farmers and for global food security. We are seeing right now that instability or shocks across the food system can lead to dramatic increases in food price."
Read the complete research at www.sciencedaily.com.
University of Reading. "Bees boost crops and could steady food prices: Yields of crops visited by insect pollinators found to be more stable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/07/220718094458.htm>.