Intercropping flowering plants in maize systems increases pollinator diversity

Norris, S.L., Blackshaw, R.P., Critchley, C.N.R., Dunn, R.M., Smith, K.E., Williams, J., Randall, N.P. and Murray, P.J. (2017) Intercropping flowering plants in maize systems increases pollinator diversity. Agricultural and Forest Entomology.

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Maize is a poorly competitive crop. Accordingly, soil preparation and high application rates of herbicides are required to reduce early competition with weeds. This leaves a large amount of bare ground with few flowering weeds, providing a poor farmland habitat for pollinators. The present study evaluates the effect of four different maize management regimes on pollinator diversity and community composition. Flowering plants intercropped with maize attracted pollinators, helping to support pollinator communities. Similar intercropping techniques using a grass ground cover did not increase pollinator density, demonstrating that pollinator richness, density and diversity is intrinsically linked to the presence of flowering plants. A maize system with a diverse intercrop may make it possible for pollinators to thrive; however, these systems may only be sufficiently attractive to bring pollinators in temporarily from the surrounding areas. These results show that there can be significant improvements to pollinator diversity, density and community composition as a result of modifying maize cultivation practices; however, these benefits must be balanced with yield penalties of approximately 60% to farmers.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Crop and Environment Sciences (to 31.07.20)
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2017 15:02
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2019 16:14

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