Category Archives: Farming

Advice on Neonics rejected

The Observer newspaper says :- “the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided to waive restrictions on the use of a class of highly dangerous powerful toxins and permit their release on crops. Neonicotinoids have been described as the Novichok of bees: a single teaspoon is sufficient to kill more than a billion, say scientists.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/29/the-observer-view-on-the-uks-toxic-stance-on-sugar-farming

Pollinator losses causing 500,000 early deaths a year

A Guardian newspaper article :-

“The global loss of pollinators is already causing about 500,000 early deaths a year by reducing the supply of healthy foods, a study has estimated.

Three-quarters of crops require pollination but the populations of many insects are in sharp decline. The inadequate pollination that results has caused a 3%-5% loss of fruit, vegetable and nut production, the research found. The lower consumption of these foods means about 1% of all deaths can now be attributed to pollinator loss, the scientists said…. “

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/global-pollinator-losses-causing-500000-early-deaths-a-year-study

Bumblebee Conservation Trust – statement on pesticides

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has published a new evidence-based position statement on the impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees. We have set out five key recommendations to help policy makers, local authorities, businesses and individuals reduce the negative impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees and other non-target animals. In most situations this means not using pesticides at all.

A summary of the statement is included below…

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/new-pesticide-position-statement/?

Sixty years after the book that launched environmental movement there is still Government’s inaction on pesticides.

The national charity Buglife says – “The UK Government’s “dither and delay” approach to pesticide policy continues to put the health of our natural world at serious risk, sixty years after author Rachel Carson first sounded the alarm about the hidden harms of these toxic chemicals in her book “Silent Spring”.

On the 60th anniversary of the ground-breaking exposé, experts in The Pesticide Collaboration are calling out the UK Government for failing to adequately protect human health and the environment from pesticides. Since official records began in 1990, the UK has covered over 700 million hectares in pesticides – enough to douse every inch of the UK 14 times over. Meanwhile, pesticides linked to cancer are still routinely used in parks and playgrounds by local councils, up and down the country… “

https://www.buglife.org.uk/news/sixty-years-later-book-that-launched-environmental-movement-exposes-governments-inaction-on-pesticides/

Silent Earth the Insect Apocalypse

“Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse” Dave Goulson, Aug 2021

In this book Professor Goulson examines the dramatic decline in insects, the vital services they perform, the potential causes and possible solutions.
Insects pollinate three quarters of our crops, recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy and control pests. Birds and fish rely on insects for food. We cannot function without them yet their decline is estimated as 75% in the past 50 years.
A study of nature reserves in Germany from 1989 to 2016 recorded a 75% fall in weight of insects caught in traps. A 10 year grasslands study showed an average two-thirds loss of weight in the insects, spiders, woodlice etc. Common UK butterfly abundance fell by 46% in 40 years.
There is little worldwide systematic monitoring of insects but the decline of insect eating birds shows the trend. North American insect eating birds have declined by 40% in 47 years with swallows and swifts numbers falling by 70% in 20 years. Similar declines are shown in the very limited studies from Africa, Asia and South America. At what point will there be a catastrophic failure in our environment?
The book reviews causes of the insect decline, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides and herbicides, farming practices and climate change. Agricultural change is required to manage these problems plus a change in Western life style and eating choices. This book makes a major contribution to raising awareness.

Glyphosate weedkiller damages wild bee colonies, study reveals

The Guardian newspaper reports:- “The critical ability of wild bumblebees to keep their colonies at the right temperature is seriously damaged by the weedkiller glyphosate, research has revealed.

Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in history, intended to kill only plants. The harm to bumblebees – vital pollinators – was not identified in regulatory risk assessments, which only test whether a pesticide rapidly kills healthy, individual bees. However, the collective failure to regulate colony temperature could have a massive impact on its ability to produce the next generation, the scientists said….”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/02/glyphosate-weedkiller-damages-wild-bumblebee-colonies

Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife

Guardian newspaper report:-

“Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife – and particularly bumblebees – to flourish, if managed in the right way, benefiting farmers and nature, new research suggests…..

If solar park owners were encouraged to use the land to sow wildflowers alongside the solar panels, they could become valuable habitats for pollinators, research from Lancaster University has found. Managing them in this way would boost bumblebee numbers beyond the borders of the parks, to about 1km (0.6 miles) away, benefiting farmers who rely on bees to pollinate their crops…. “

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/13/solar-parks-could-be-used-to-boost-bumblebee-numbers-study-suggests

Almost half of Britain’s natural biodiversity has disappeared.

Report in the Guardian newspaper:- ” Almost half of Britain’s natural biodiversity has disappeared over the centuries, with farming and urban spread triggered by the industrial and agricultural revolutions being blamed as major factors for this loss.

Britain has lost more of its natural biodiversity than almost anywhere else in western Europe, the most of all the G7 nations and more than many other nations such as China,

The world’s overall biodiversity intactness is estimated at 75%, which is significantly lower than the 90% average considered to be a safe limit for ensuring the planet does not tip into an ecological recession that could result in widespread starvation. On this scale, the UK’s index reading was 53%.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/10/nearly-half-of-britains-biodiversity-has-gone-since-industrial-revolution

Why do we need insects?

  1. To pollinate 87% of plants. 75% crops need insect pollination.
  2. Recycle dung, leaves, corpses.
  3. Keep soils healthy.
  4. Control pests, though they can also be pests.
  5. Food for larger animals eg. fish. Crickets are 12 times more efficient than cows in converting vegetation into digestible body mass, produce little or no methane and use 55 times less water.
  6. Insects are in all food chains.

Problems –

German nature reserve studies – over 27 years the insect biomass has dropped by 75%. Forest and grassland had a 40% drop over 10 years.
UK butterflies – over 41 years a 46% drop in common species numbers. 77% drop in rare species numbers.
US studies – 70% drop in insectivorous birds in 20 years.

Source:- Dave Goulson “Silent Earth” 2021