Increasing grassland species improves pollination and yields

Grasslands cover 30–40% of European agricultural areas. Agri-environmental schemes leading to even small changes in grassland biodiversity could elicit extensive benefits. A new study on working farms in southwest England highlights the contribution of the plant diversity of the grassland to the abundance and diversity of insect pollinators and their potential to increase crop yields. The researchers make recommendations for which species to include in seed mixes.

Practical management options for grasslands are critical if the Common Agricultural Policy’s priority to promote sustainable farming is to be realised. This study aimed to investigate how the number (and type) of plant species in a pasture and how a pasture is managed affects the diversity and function of insect pollinators over time. The study also sought to identify grassland species that show the greatest effects on insect pollinator abundance and diversity. Finally, the impact of plant species richness to pollination of crop and wildflower species was investigated.

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