Enhancing Crop Yield Through Wild Pollinators

Created with SARE support
Lucas A Garibaldi, Luísa G Carvalheiro, Sara D Leonhardt, Marcelo A Aizen, Brett R Blaauw, Rufus Isaacs, Michael Kuhlmann, David Kleijn, Alexandra M Klein, Claire Kremen, Lora Morandin, Jeroen Scheper, and Rachael Winfree | 2014 | 14 pages

According to Michigan State University entomologist Rufus Isaacs, recent evidence highlights the value of wild-insect species richness and abundance for crop pollination worldwide. He says deliberate physical importation of single species (eg European honey bees) into crop fields for pollination remains the mainstream management approach, and implementation of practices to enhance crop yield (production per area) through wild insects is only just beginning. With few exceptions, studies measuring the impacts of pollinator-supporting practices on wild-insect richness and pollination service success – particularly in relation to long-term crop yield and economic profit – are rare. Isaacs received an NCR-SARE Research and Education grant in 2008 to study native plant pollinator conservation strips.

In this journal article, Isaacs and other researchers provide a general framework and examples of approaches for enhancing pollinator richness and abundance, quantity and quality of pollen on stigmas, crop yield, and farmers’ profit, including some benefits detected only through long-term monitoring. They argue for integrating the promotion of wild-insect species richness with single-species management to benefit farmers and society.

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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.