Category Archives: Farming

Pesticides found to starve fish ‘astoundingly fast’

Report from The Guardian:-

“The Silent Spring prophecy that pesticides could “still the leaping of fish” has been confirmed, according to scientists investigating the collapse of fisheries in Japan. They say similar impacts are likely to have occurred around the world.

The long-term study showed an immediate plunge in insect and plankton numbers in a large lake after the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides to rice paddies. This was rapidly followed by the collapse of smelt and eel populations, which had been stable for decades but rely on the tiny creatures for food. … ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/31/fishery-collapse-confirms-silent-spring-pesticide-prophecy

A third of British wild bees and hoverflies are in decline

A widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades has been revealed by the first national survey in Britain, which scientists say “highlights a fundamental deterioration” in nature.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/26/widespread-losses-of-pollinating-insects-revealed-across-britain

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47698294

Strips of wildflowers could cut pesticide spraying

Strips of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying.   Guardian newspaper report:-

“The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops.

Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying.  The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology…. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/31/stripes-of-wildflowers-across-farm-fields-could-cut-pesticide-sprayinghttps://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1369

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1369

 

Cities are better for bumblebees than the countryside.

The Guardian newspaper reports a study by Royal Holloway University :-

“Bumblebee colonies fare better in villages and cities than in fields, research has revealed.

Bumblebees are important pollinators, but face threats including habitat loss, climate change, pesticide and fungicide use and parasites. Now researchers say that bumblebee colonies in urban areas not only produce more offspring than those on agricultural land, but have more food stores, fewer invasions from parasitic “cuckoo” bumblebees, and survive for longer.

“[The study] is not saying that cities are necessarily the ideal habitat for bees, it is just that they are doing better in the cities than in the countryside,” said Ash Samuelson, a doctoral student and first author of the research from Royal Holloway, University of London.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/27/bumblebees-thrive-in-towns-more-than-countryside

 

Wildflowers cut pesticide use.

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying.
The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops.  See the Guardian newspaper report: –

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/31/stripes-of-wildflowers-across-farm-fields-could-cut-pesticide-spraying

Not safe to use pesticides at industrial scales

The assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false, according to a chief scientific adviser to the UK government.  See The Guardian newspaper report …..

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/21/assumed-safety-of-widespread-pesticide-use-is-false-says-top-government-scientist

New Research Shows Risk to Bumblebee Extinction

THE GOVERNMENT MUST BAN BEE-HARMING PESTICIDES AS NEW RESEARCH SHOWS RISK TO BUMBLEBEE EXTINCTION

The government must act to permanently ban bee-harming pesticides says
Friends of the Earth as new research from Royal Holloway University suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a risk of bumblebee extinction.

The research showed that queen bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were
26% less likely to be able to start a new colony.

Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back moves in the EU to
permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and
commit to keeping any ban post-Brexit.

Responding to the research, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature
campaigner, said:

“This new study comes hot on the heels of the largest field trials of
neonicotinoids showing harm to honey bees and wild bees. It also follows
new evidence of how these pesticides leak into the environment and turn up in
wildflowers posing further risk to bees.

“It is clear that use of these chemicals on any crop poses a risk to bees
and other wildlife. The Government has repeatedly said it will follow the
science – how much more science does it need before it acts to protect our
precious bees?

“Michael Gove must put his support behind a comprehensive ban on
neonicotinoid pesticides across the EU and continue the ban in the UK
post-Brexit”


*Editor’s notes:*

1) Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common
neonicotinoid pesticide, which could lead to collapses in wild bee
populations, according to new research [1] in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Guelph have found
that exposure to thiamethoxam, a common pesticide, reduced the chances of
a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.

2) In June 2017 a pan-European field study was published [2] providing
evidence that neonicotinoids harm honeybees and wild bees. Covering a
crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches, it was the biggest yet
real-world study of these pesticides. Undertaken in the UK, Germany and
Hungary, the experiment found : Increasing levels of neonicotinoid
residues in the nests of wild bee species was linked with lower
reproductive success across all three countries; Exposure to treated
crops reduced overwintering success of honeybee colonies – a key
measure of year-to-year viability – in the UK and Hungary.

3) Another study [3] this year, carried out on corn farms in Canada, found
crops were not the main source of neonicotinoids to which bees were
exposed. Instead, the contaminated pollen came from wildflowers, as has
also been shown in the UK. Nadia Tsvetkov, at York University in Canada
and who led the research said that “This indicates that neonicotinoids,
which are water soluble, spill over from fields into the surrounding
environment, where they are taken up by other plants that are very
attractive to bees”.


[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0260-1

[2]https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/neonicotinoid-pesticides-harm-honeybees-wild-bees-first-pan-european-field-study

[3] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1395

Landmark study shows pesticides damage bee colonies

The Guardian newspaper reports –

“Widely used insecticides damage the survival of honeybee colonies, the world’s largest ever field trial has shown for the first time, as well as harming wild bees.

The farm-based research, along with a second new study, also suggests widespread contamination of entire landscapes and a toxic “cocktail effect” from multiple pesticides.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows

BBC report – Pesticide ‘reduces bumblebee queen egg development’

“Use of a common pesticide in spring could have an impact on wild bumblebees by interfering with their life cycle, a UK study suggests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39783990

The team, who looked at wild bumblebees caught in the English countryside, say the insecticide, thiamethoxam, reduces egg development in queen bees.

They say this is likely to reduce bee populations later in the year.

Thiamethoxam is one of three neonicotinoid insecticides currently restricted for use by the EU.They have been restricted amid concerns about their impact on wild bees.

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society – B, investigated the impact of thiamethoxam on four species of bumblebee queen which had been captured in the wild in spring.”

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1854/20170123

Farms could cut pesticides without loss

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/06/farms-could-slash-pesticide-use-without-losses-research-reveals

The new research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Plants, analysed the pesticide use, productivity and profitability of almost 1,000 farms of all types across France. By comparing similar farms using high or low levels of pesticides, the scientists found that 94% of farms would lose no production if they cut pesticides and two-fifths of these would actually produce more.

The results were most startling for insecticides: lower levels would result in more production in 86% of farms and no farms at all would lose production.

The research also indicated that 78% of farms would be equally or more profitable when using less pesticide of all types.