Greenhouses with pollination troubles, and a landscape for easy breathing (or not)

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A sustainable e-newsletter from GrowerTalks and Green Profit GrowerTalks MagazineGreen Profit Magazine

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jennifer Duffield White Subscribe

Flowers for Wild Bees
Tomato Pollination Troubles
Sustainability Symposium
Crop Insurance for Hives
Metrolina Certified
Easier Breathing

Wild Flowers Draw Wild Pollinators

Here’s another confirmation of the fact that flowers make a difference. A report from Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) details how one of their grant recipients measured the way wildflower plots boosted pollination in orchards.

By adding wildflower plots around an apple orchard, grower Joe Dickey saw a 30% increase in apple production. He also provided artificial nesting houses for native pollinators.

The next step in the SARE project will be to look at whether annual or perennial wildflowers attract more native bees. Learn more HERE 

UK Greenhouses Face Pollination Problems

While some native pollinators do a great job providing pollination services on certain crops, British tomato growers have been facing a difficult situation. For more than 20 years, greenhouse growers in the UK used non-native species of commercial bumblebees to pollinate their crops. But starting in 2015, Natural England (which advises the government on environmental issues) stopped allowing the use of non-native bumblebees in unscreened glasshouses due to worries that they could escape and become invasive.

However, when growers switched to a native subspecies, Bombus terrestris audax, they started seeing poor pollination results on their tomatoes. Right now, AHDB Horticulture, which provides research and development for the British horticulture industry, is conducting research to understand why growers are having such poor results with this species.

You can read more about the issue HERE, including why some think the move to stop using the non-native bees was unjustified.  

Sustainability Symposium in Orlando

You may want to check out the Sustainability Symposium in Orlando, Florida, on October 11, 2017. The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) will hold the event for biological products manufacturers and marketers, distributors, food processors, growers, and service providers supporting agriculture, public health, forestry and specialty markets such as home and garden.

BPIA is a U.S.-based trade association for the biopesticides and biostimulants industries. The symposium will include topics such as growing consumer interest in biological products, the role of biological products in integrated pest management, what exemption from tolerance really means, and how to continue building credibility for the biostimulants industry.

Learn more HERE.

Beekeepers Get Expanded Crop Insurance

The USDA has announced an expansion of crop insurance for beekeepers. The Apiculture Pilot Insurance (API) plan is now available throughout the lower 48 states and provides protection for the producers’ honey, pollen collection, wax and breeding stock.

According to the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, the plan now uses a precipitation-based rainfall index in order to evaluate the unique precipitation requirements in different regions and how that affects vegetation (and thus honey production).

Producers must enroll for API coverage for the 2018 crop year by November 15, 2017. You can purchase the insurance through private agents

Metrolina Earns MPS-A Certificate

Add Metrolina Greenhouses, one of the largest growers in the U.S., to the list of those with MPS-A sustainability certificates. The North Carolina-based business, known for its cutting-edge automation, has also focused on sustainability in recent years. They collect rainwater and recycle/reuse water. In addition, they utilize wood burners to generate energy.

After a year of documenting their use of crop protection agents, fertilizers, energy, water and waste, they scored high enough on their environmental scorecard to earn an MPS-A certificate.


Easier Breathing in Green Spaces (Usually)

Ah, the irony. Most of the year, I take great pleasure in the crisp mountain air and wooded flanks of Montana. And I'm sure my lungs thank me for it. But it's August, and if you take a look at a fire map, you’ll see that Montana has quite a collection of wildfires going right now. It kicks up the allergies. Friends with asthma suffer. For one town, the Department of Health is actually advising people to evaculate due to the smoke hazards. (Don’t get me wrong, wildfires have a place on the landscape and I’m fascinated by the complexity of benefits and risks they present.) And yet, nature isn't always pleasant.

So this bit of research rolling across my desk was ironic, but also a good reminder why green spaces matter. A study out of Spain says that living near green spaces can reduce the risk of childhood wheezing and bronchitis. Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health published their findings in the European Respiratory Journal.

Another reason to push for neighborhood greening. (Though perhaps I'll wait a few months before sharing that piece of data with local Montanans.)

Until next time,

Jennifer Duffield White 

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