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Feb/2016 – Diversity is the key point for an efficient pollination

An international team of researchers conducted a global study on how the pollinators diversity affects the crop yield in both small and large plantations located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Pollination process plays a key role on crop yields and understanding deeply this process is of great importance for the food-security point of view because many crops are pollinator-dependent. One of the grand challenges of humanity is to reduce the negative impact of the antropoghenic activity on the preservation of species, such as bees, which are responsible for 73% of polinization of plantations used for human food.

Pollination by bee

Pollination by bee

Prof. Breno Freitas from Departamento de Zootecnia at Universidade Federal do Ceará contributed to the research. The results were reported in the paper entitled “ Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms ” (Science 351, 388 (2016)) that showed a deficit in production directly correlated with a decrease in the pollination process. By analysing 344 farms worldwide during 5 years, the researchers studied different crop as a function of flower-visitor density and richness. For small holdings the diversity of flower-visitor is not important but for large holdings, the higher flower-density is crucial for increase the crop yield.

“Basically, the majority of plants worldwide, including those we cultivate to produce our food, such as fruits and vegetables which contains minerals and vitamins to our nutrition depends on pollination. The results of our research allowed us to state how this agricultural pollination is below optimal levels in those regions of the world and, most importantly, we could test the Ecological intensification that we have been suggesting in recent years”, said Prof. Breno Freitas.

Therefore, the obtained results shed light on how ecological intensification through pollination is a pathway to create mutually beneficial scenarios between biodiversity and crop yields worldwide, thus making clear the important role of bees to the world food safety.

The research was funded by Global Environment Fund, United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (GEF/UNEP/FAO) Global Pollination Project, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations from the Norwegian, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico-Brazil, CONICET-Argentina, Norwegian Environment Agency (2012/16642), The Research Council of Norway, and Universidad Nacional de Río Negro-Argentina.

The full reference of the paper is:
Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms
Lucas A. Garibaldi et al. Science 351, 388 (2016)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aac7287