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Insect pollination in oilseed rape

Agricultural production is not only under pressure to increase yields to meet growing demands of food, energy, and fibre, but also to decrease the reliance of external inputs and the linked negative environmental effects. Insect pollination has been suggested as a way of increasing agricultural productivity without increasing inputs as mineral fertilizers or pesticides, but it is often not a part of agricultural management.

Oilseed rape flower. Photo.

Oilseed rape is the second most important protein crop and third most important oil crop in the world, grown on large areas of agricultural land world-wide. The oil is used for human consumption and food products, industrial purposes and biofuels and the protein rich bi-products are used as animal fodder. Oilseed rape is self-fertile and can produce high yields in isolation, but out-crossing occurs and the flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. How much yields increases when flower-visiting insects are present and under which circumstances are not yet known.

The project aims to increase the knowledge on how ecosystem services can be integrated in agricultural production. We will examine how managed honeybees and wild flower-visiting insects, landscape complexity, and crop management affects the pollination, the yield quantity and quality in oilseed rape.

Hoverfly sitting on oilseed rape flower. Photo.

Bumblebee sitting on oilseed rape flower. Photo.