GETTING more bang for buzz is the goal of a research and development project looking at what pollinators work best for which crops.
The project, "Strengthening and enabling effective pollination for Australia" aims to improve the understanding of pollination requirements of different crops.
The Hort Innovation-funded project is also looking at key threats to honey bees and provides crop-specific resources to encourage growers to improve their pollination practices.
The project is conducting field work involving avocado, blueberry, lychee, macadamia, melon, and papaya crops.
The information thus far has been distilled into pollination manuals which provide day-to-day pollination practice guides for farms.
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These were developed by pollination ecologists and bee scientists from Plant and Food Research New Zealand with the help of Plant Health Australia to combine current best practice and new research for the best pollination outcomes.
Hort Innovation research and development manager, Ashley Zamek said iformation regarding best practice is currently limited for many crops.
"In particular, little is understood about the degree to which crops are dependent on managed versus feral honey bees or other, unmanaged pollinators," Mr Zamek said.
"Honey bee pests and diseases, including Varroa mite, have the potential to dramatically alter the free crop pollination that occurs from feral honey bees.
"This research program aims to determine key pollinators across a range of Australian crops and provide our growers with resources to help promote all different types of pollinators and reduce the risk of pollination failure."
The project has three main research areas:
- Determining current pollination hive requirements for honey bees as managed pollinators;
- Identifying and developing management options for alternative pollinators;
- Developing tools to aid honey bee health and honey bee behaviours that help fight Varroa mite.
The pollination manuals are available to be viewed here:
- Avocado pollination
- Blueberry pollination
- Lychee pollination
- Macadamia pollination
- Melon pollination
- Papaya pollination
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