News

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Farmers urged to plant wildflowers as one in three bee species faces extinction

Darragh McCullough

Published 08/07/2014|02:30

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Bees continue to be under threat – and one of the main reasons why is the decline in flowers.

One in three bee species in Ireland is at risk of extinction.

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New research has found that the decline in some of our most important insects has reached crisis levels.

Three types of bees have already disappeared in the past three decades.

Teagasc countryside management specialist Catherine Keena said one of the main reasons why bees were dying out was the decline in flowers.

"Farmers are inclined to think that everything is okay because they're careful about what they are doing, but the reality is that we need to do more to protect vulnerable species. The alternative of letting more of the biodiversity in our natural environment be sacrificed in order to produce more food will not be acceptable for the consumer," said Ms Keena.

She was promoting the use of wildflower strips on tillage farms at Teagasc's Crops and Spraying open day in Kildalton, Co Kilkenny, last week. More than 1,000 farmers attended the day to learn about new sprayer regulations and Greening rules in the latest CAP reforms.

"A half-acre strip of wild-flower seed only costs about €30-€40 in seed, and while it needs to be planted in a good seedbed, it doesn't require other inputs," said Ms Keena.

She said farmers had to be "proactive in providing habitats for wildlife if we're serious about keeping our food production systems sustainable".

Irish Independent

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