A survey of canola growers in the South West Region found that about two-thirds of respondents encourage pollinators such as insects and birds onto their property through trees, shelterbelts and biodiversity corridors. The same percentage also practice Integrated Pest Management, particularly visual assessment of the number of pest insects prior to spraying and using more targeted insecticides.
The survey is part of a 5-year project being undertaken by the South West Catchments Council (SWCC) which works with farmers to improve the pollination services provided by beneficial insects and other pollinators through revegetation programs that enhance food availability for pollinators. Revegetation is designed to improve pollination services and biodiversity, ensuring the farm is more resilient and can better withstand the impacts of climate change.
SWCC Project Manager, Wendy Wilkins, who is working with canola farmers at Boscabel, Wedgecarrup and Westwood, said the survey was designed to gauge farmers current knowledge and attitudes to pollination and integrated pest management, remnant vegetation and revegetation and farm resilience. The survey will be undertaken again at the end of the project to see if knowledge and attitudes have changed.
“Most respondents believe the key pollinator for canola is the honeybee, and we will be monitoring the insect surveys in the areas we’re revegetating over time to see if there is a change in insect species and numbers” Ms Wilkins said.
None of the survey participants thought that remnant vegetation and revegetation were detrimental to their production, and in fact seventy-eight per cent said it was beneficial. Some of the benefits listed were as habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects, increased biodiversity, reduced wind and water erosion, shelter for stock, reduced salinity and aesthetics.
Overwhelmingly the biggest disadvantages of remnant vegetation and revegetation was perceived to be as habitat for pest animals.
The topic of farm resilience provided some of the most interesting responses. Seventy-six per cent of respondents consider the changing climate is affecting how they farm, with the same percentage saying they have diversified their farm and income streams to spread their risk.
A staggering ninety-four per cent believe they have implemented soil conservation strategies and eighty-eight per cent consider they have implemented water conservation strategies.
“I’m not surprised that farmers are coming up with solutions to help them adapt to the changing climate because they’ve always had to consider the weather in the way they farm and they’re an incredibly resilient group of people,” Ms Wilkins concluded.
Find out more about the pollinator project here.
This project is supported by the South West Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.