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Push for secure pollination to boost farm productivity

Some of the most important questions and concerns currently facing pollination-dependent industries will be answered in an Australian first, multi-million dollar research project.

The ‘Securing Pollination for More Productive Agriculture: Guidelines for effective pollinator management and stakeholder adoption’ project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme.

It will support collaboration between Australia’s most knowledgeable bee and pollination researchers to assess the contribution of pollinators to nine Australian crops (apples pears, lucerne, almonds, canola, melons, blueberries, raspberries, mangoes), investigate re-establishing native vegetation to support pollinator food and nesting resources, and use new technologies to communicate the findings to farmers.

Four sub-projects will be carried out under the project, managed by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), and co-funded and delivered by Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of New England and University of Sydney.

The agricultural sector will be represented by project partners including Lucerne Australia, Apple and Pear Growers Australia SA, Almond Board of Australia, Australian Melon Association, Australian Mango Industry Association, and Raspberries and Blackberries Australia.

Paul Blackshaw is RIRDC’s Project Manager. He says the outcomes of the four year project will offer multiple benefits to a wide range of sectors.

“From securing productive agricultural environments, to improving vegetation, to future proofing against disease and pests like Varroa and boosting honey bee colonies, this project will help agricultural and horticultural producers to improve yields and rates of pollination,” Mr Blackshaw said.

Initial research work has already begun including experiments to assess pollination deficits in apple orchards and pollinator habitats in the Adelaide Hills, as well as pollination field work with the blueberry and raspberry sectors in New South Wales.

Other partners to the project include Horticulture Innovation Australia, Primary Industries and Resources SA, Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources SA, Trees for Life, Greening Australia, Costa, Native Vegetation Council, Natural Resources Northern and Yorke (SA), SA Australian Apiarist Association, O’Connor NRM, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board and TERN Eco-informatics.

Source: Australian Government

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