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Gardening & Agriculture categorybanner Pest control

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Everything for our children, except leaving them a healthy planet
We do not survive without insects - and within ten or twenty years it is a crisis With many insects it does not go well, due to mankind. What would happen if they all died out? No one who can tell it exactly. Biologist Dave Goulson makes an attempt: we head for an 'ecological armageddon'. The deterioration of the insect position is a disaster in the making, science warns time and time again. Prompt German research at the end of last year points to a dramatic decrease of 75 percent of flying insects. The causes are also known: loss of habitat and lavish use of pesticides in intensive agriculture. In the European Union it was decided to ban the biggest culprits, the neonicotinoids that make a whole plant from the roots to the nectar mortally toxic to insects. The harmful effects of neonicotinoids are now known in detail. What the consequences will be if insects disappear completely, much less is known. But that we are heading for an 'ecological armageddon', Dave Goulson is convinced. Insects and other undesirable animals are of vital importance for the formation of fertile soil. Goulson is professor of biology at the University of Sussex in England and author of popular science books in which he underlines the importance of insects time and time again. We ask him to look into his 'glass bulb' to predict what the consequences might be if we lose the insects. An appeal to the imagination to imagine the unimaginable. Goulson: Even though we do not have a lot of data, we can logically reason to outline a plausible scenario so that we know what comes our way.  The pollination crisis: fruit for the rich Bees and other insects pollinate the crops we eat. Without bees we lose that food. It is about more than just honey. But its hard to tell exactly how it will be," says Goulson, but I would think that fruit from orchards is the first to come into the danger zone: apples, cherries, pears, but also strawberries, and beans that depend mainly on bumblebees. A beekeeper takes care of pollination © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel van den Berg h The crops we grow worldwide benefit from pollination by bees, some of which you can grow without pollination, but then you get lower yields, you get smaller tomatoes and deformed strawberries, while the other quarter are crops whose pollen is transmitted by the wind. Cereals, wheat, barley will be still there, so we can continue to eat bread, porridge and tortillas, not really a nutritious diet to fall back on if fruit and vegetables are becoming scarce. Will fruit become a luxury for the rich? It is cold economic logic that scarcity will push up prices. Will fruit become a luxury for the rich? We already see that the people with the lowest incomes have an unhealthy diet: if fruit and vegetables become too expensive, that problem will increase. Public health will deteriorate. In the United Kingdom, we are already spending some 47 billion pounds annually. Loss of health and economic loss of production, due to poor eating habits. Critical threshold   Goulson emphasizes that these effects are going to occur long before the last one has left life: "It is enough when populations fall through a critical threshold.The demand for insect-pollinated crops increases, while the insects disappear. Do those two trends meet and then the pollination crisis is a fact. Are reducing yields already noticeably? We see that the yields of insect-pollinated crops are more variable than those of wind-pollinated crops, sometimes it is not so bad, at other times it is disappointing, which could be an effect of declining bee populations." We do not know for sure. I was recently in India and there the farmers around Kolkata appeared to have to pollinate their squash, a kind of pumpkin, by hand. Pollinating by hand There are not enough bees anymore. In China, they do the same thing with apples and pears - countries with cheap labor can keep up with it for a while, but then only with crops with a high profit margin, which can not be done for the western world. It is difficult not to damage the flowers. Bees have been fertilising for over a hundred million years, we are not going to do that better. The ground crisis: a land full of dead things Bees and pollination get all the attention, but just as precarious is the formation of fertile soil. Insects and other invertebrates are of vital importance for this. Goulson: Worms, woodlice, millipedes, ants and a whole list of creatures that are so obscure that I will not even mention them." They break down organic material and make it available again as food for plants and trees. Infertile soil with trapped nutrients, a poor structure and little oxygen, this is already the case on many agricultural lands and we are throwing more and more fertilizer into it, which in turn has all kinds of adverse effects on nature. The Walking Dead That sounds like an episode of 'The Walking Dead'. I know. But it is plausible. An end to the decomposition of garbage produces frightening scenes. "Dead bodies will stay there much longer if there are no more fly larvae and carrion beetles to digest them. Dead trees will be left standing for a long tme. The landscape turns into a compost heap that hardly rot. In this compost heap pathogenic bacteria will thrive, which sounds like an episode of 'The Walking Dead', I know, but it's plausible. And that comes on top of existing problems with the soil, such as erosion and pollution. We lose about 100 billion tons of fertile soil per year, as calculated, says Goulson. According to a report that was presented at a UN conference at the end of March, three billion people are already experiencing the consequences of land degradation. Slash and burn The impoverishment of the soil plays mainly in agriculture. I'm afraid that at some point we will start claiming the land and cutting down the remaining forests, and you'll get a kind of slash and burn-activity around the world on the few good soil that is still there. Can we create a realistic alternative for that soil ourselves? Hydroponics are being experimented with, where you grow in water with artificial nutrients, but it seems unlikely that such a thing will ever be successful on the scale we need. The humanitarian crisis: 700 million migrants Add up the pollination crisis and the soil crisis and you see that the food supply is far from safe in the future. Hunger is already a problem in the world and that will escalate, the rich countries will initially notice the least, they will seize the harvests and import food - a matter of money and later of arms. A future of violence, war and terrorism, because the people in the poor countries are the first to deal with food shortages will not starve to death in a silently, everyone is going to fight to survive. Already many armed conflicts are going on with already in the base about resources such as agricultural land and fresh water. The afore mentioned UN report also points to the links between land degradation, armed conflicts and migration. The authors estimate that between 500 and 700 million people can be driven out of their homes. Goulson: We are going to experience migratory flows where the numbers of now are pale. Another beneficial effect of insects on humans is that they eat each other: predator insects keep species in check that could otherwise form a plague. Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, ladybirds that eat aphids ... If the predatory insects disappear, we will not immediately notice that, for the cynical reason that we have the pesticides that started this whole story, but you can of course forget about organically grown food. There are no more natural pest control insects, we will be condemned to pesticides, with no alternative, while the pest insects themselves become slowly resistant, and we can only dream of food that has not been soaked in poison. The natural disaster: biological loneliness We tend to look at our own plate only if we try to predict the consequences of insect mortality. But the rest of nature also relies on the insects. 87 Percent of the wild plants need pollination by insects to propagate, and when the pollinators die, no one will stand up to pollinate the wild plants by hand, and a flowerless landscape of grasses will remain. Whith a loss of 87 percent, the whole ecosystem will collapse and we can talk about the end of life on earth in the form we know today. There will be soon no longer buzzing bees, no chirping crickets on a sultry summer evening. France lost one third of its birds in the last 10 years The disappearance of insects triggers an ecological chain reaction that is already noticeable. Insects are the main food for the majority of birds and of bats and frogs. An alarming investigation has just appeared showing that France has lost one third of its birds in the last ten years. The situation in the Netherlands and other European countries is just as bad: we have much more data from birds than from insects, and the picture is clear: they are being swept away, especially meadow birds, but also swallows. When I was young, you could see everywhere the gray flycatcher, which has been reduced by 89 percent over the last forty years in the United Kingdom. The American nature writer David Quammen predicts that we only have 'weed species' left. The current biodiversity is reduced to a group of opportunistic, generalist plants and animals that you will see everywhere: rats, pigeons, dandelions. According to Quammen, they are facing a 'future of soul-withering biological loneliness', a heart-rending biological loneliness. A world without butterflies Call it the aesthetic, perhaps even the spiritual side of living together with other species. We will soon no longer be buzzing with bees, no chirping crickets on a sultry summer evening, maybe not even a fly that taps behind the net curtains on a lazy Tuesday afternoon. Goulson: What I'm afraid of above all is a world without butterflies, or that my children will never see a flower meadow again or wake up in the morning with a choir of singing birds, if people can survive in such a world, what kind of life will that be? A gray, depressing life, without joy. For most people, the approaching catastrophe manifests itself only in petitions on Facebook and ominous stories in the newspaper. But within ten or twenty years, it is a crisis, the fate of the insects is part of a flood of extinction, soil loss, water scarcity and climate change that is coming at us, but you rarely hear a politician here." There is a staggering lack of interest. For this problem It is bizarre: it seems we want to do everything for our children, except leaving them a healthy planet. Does Goulson think we will be in action in time? To be honest, I do not fear, we're very bad at long-term thinking, we'll first have to feel the crisis merciless, and only when millions die, we will come to action. By: Paul Q. de Vries
We do not survive without insects - and within ten or twenty years it is a crisis With many insects it does not go well, due to mankind. What would happen if they all died out? No one who can tell it exactly. Biologist Dave Goulson makes an attempt: we head for an 'ecological armageddon'. The deterioration of the insect position is a disaster in the making, science warns time and time again. Prompt German research at the end of last year points to a dramatic decrease of 75 percent of flying insects. The causes are also known: loss of habitat and lavish use of pesticides in intensive agriculture. In the European Union it was decided to ban the biggest culprits, the neonicotinoids that make a whole plant from the roots to the nectar mortally toxic to insects. The harmful effects of neonicotinoids are now known in detail. What the consequences will be if insects disappear completely, much less is known. But that we are heading for an 'ecological armageddon', Dave Goulson is convinced. Insects and other undesirable animals are of vital importance for the formation of fertile soil. Goulson is professor of biology at the University of Sussex in England and author of popular science books in which he underlines the importance of insects time and time again. We ask him to look into his 'glass bulb' to predict what the consequences might be if we lose the insects. An appeal to the imagination to imagine the unimaginable. Goulson: Even though we do not have a lot of data, we can logically reason to outline a plausible scenario so that we know what comes our way.  The pollination crisis: fruit for the rich Bees and other insects pollinate the crops we eat. Without bees we lose that food. It is about more than just honey. But its hard to tell exactly how it will be," says Goulson, but I would think that fruit from orchards is the first to come into the danger zone: apples, cherries, pears, but also strawberries, and beans that depend mainly on bumblebees. A beekeeper takes care of pollination © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel van den Berg h The crops we grow worldwide benefit from pollination by bees, some of which you can grow without pollination, but then you get lower yields, you get smaller tomatoes and deformed strawberries, while the other quarter are crops whose pollen is transmitted by the wind. Cereals, wheat, barley will be still there, so we can continue to eat bread, porridge and tortillas, not really a nutritious diet to fall back on if fruit and vegetables are becoming scarce. Will fruit become a luxury for the rich? It is cold economic logic that scarcity will push up prices. Will fruit become a luxury for the rich? We already see that the people with the lowest incomes have an unhealthy diet: if fruit and vegetables become too expensive, that problem will increase. Public health will deteriorate. In the United Kingdom, we are already spending some 47 billion pounds annually. Loss of health and economic loss of production, due to poor eating habits. Critical threshold   Goulson emphasizes that these effects are going to occur long before the last one has left life: "It is enough when populations fall through a critical threshold.The demand for insect-pollinated crops increases, while the insects disappear. Do those two trends meet and then the pollination crisis is a fact. Are reducing yields already noticeably? We see that the yields of insect-pollinated crops are more variable than those of wind-pollinated crops, sometimes it is not so bad, at other times it is disappointing, which could be an effect of declining bee populations." We do not know for sure. I was recently in India and there the farmers around Kolkata appeared to have to pollinate their squash, a kind of pumpkin, by hand. Pollinating by hand There are not enough bees anymore. In China, they do the same thing with apples and pears - countries with cheap labor can keep up with it for a while, but then only with crops with a high profit margin, which can not be done for the western world. It is difficult not to damage the flowers. Bees have been fertilising for over a hundred million years, we are not going to do that better. The ground crisis: a land full of dead things Bees and pollination get all the attention, but just as precarious is the formation of fertile soil. Insects and other invertebrates are of vital importance for this. Goulson: Worms, woodlice, millipedes, ants and a whole list of creatures that are so obscure that I will not even mention them." They break down organic material and make it available again as food for plants and trees. Infertile soil with trapped nutrients, a poor structure and little oxygen, this is already the case on many agricultural lands and we are throwing more and more fertilizer into it, which in turn has all kinds of adverse effects on nature. The Walking Dead That sounds like an episode of 'The Walking Dead'. I know. But it is plausible. An end to the decomposition of garbage produces frightening scenes. "Dead bodies will stay there much longer if there are no more fly larvae and carrion beetles to digest them. Dead trees will be left standing for a long tme. The landscape turns into a compost heap that hardly rot. In this compost heap pathogenic bacteria will thrive, which sounds like an episode of 'The Walking Dead', I know, but it's plausible. And that comes on top of existing problems with the soil, such as erosion and pollution. We lose about 100 billion tons of fertile soil per year, as calculated, says Goulson. According to a report that was presented at a UN conference at the end of March, three billion people are already experiencing the consequences of land degradation. Slash and burn The impoverishment of the soil plays mainly in agriculture. I'm afraid that at some point we will start claiming the land and cutting down the remaining forests, and you'll get a kind of slash and burn-activity around the world on the few good soil that is still there. Can we create a realistic alternative for that soil ourselves? Hydroponics are being experimented with, where you grow in water with artificial nutrients, but it seems unlikely that such a thing will ever be successful on the scale we need. The humanitarian crisis: 700 million migrants Add up the pollination crisis and the soil crisis and you see that the food supply is far from safe in the future. Hunger is already a problem in the world and that will escalate, the rich countries will initially notice the least, they will seize the harvests and import food - a matter of money and later of arms. A future of violence, war and terrorism, because the people in the poor countries are the first to deal with food shortages will not starve to death in a silently, everyone is going to fight to survive. Already many armed conflicts are going on with already in the base about resources such as agricultural land and fresh water. The afore mentioned UN report also points to the links between land degradation, armed conflicts and migration. The authors estimate that between 500 and 700 million people can be driven out of their homes. Goulson: We are going to experience migratory flows where the numbers of now are pale. Another beneficial effect of insects on humans is that they eat each other: predator insects keep species in check that could otherwise form a plague. Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, ladybirds that eat aphids ... If the predatory insects disappear, we will not immediately notice that, for the cynical reason that we have the pesticides that started this whole story, but you can of course forget about organically grown food. There are no more natural pest control insects, we will be condemned to pesticides, with no alternative, while the pest insects themselves become slowly resistant, and we can only dream of food that has not been soaked in poison. The natural disaster: biological loneliness We tend to look at our own plate only if we try to predict the consequences of insect mortality. But the rest of nature also relies on the insects. 87 Percent of the wild plants need pollination by insects to propagate, and when the pollinators die, no one will stand up to pollinate the wild plants by hand, and a flowerless landscape of grasses will remain. Whith a loss of 87 percent, the whole ecosystem will collapse and we can talk about the end of life on earth in the form we know today. There will be soon no longer buzzing bees, no chirping crickets on a sultry summer evening. France lost one third of its birds in the last 10 years The disappearance of insects triggers an ecological chain reaction that is already noticeable. Insects are the main food for the majority of birds and of bats and frogs. An alarming investigation has just appeared showing that France has lost one third of its birds in the last ten years. The situation in the Netherlands and other European countries is just as bad: we have much more data from birds than from insects, and the picture is clear: they are being swept away, especially meadow birds, but also swallows. When I was young, you could see everywhere the gray flycatcher, which has been reduced by 89 percent over the last forty years in the United Kingdom. The American nature writer David Quammen predicts that we only have 'weed species' left. The current biodiversity is reduced to a group of opportunistic, generalist plants and animals that you will see everywhere: rats, pigeons, dandelions. According to Quammen, they are facing a 'future of soul-withering biological loneliness', a heart-rending biological loneliness. A world without butterflies Call it the aesthetic, perhaps even the spiritual side of living together with other species. We will soon no longer be buzzing with bees, no chirping crickets on a sultry summer evening, maybe not even a fly that taps behind the net curtains on a lazy Tuesday afternoon. Goulson: What I'm afraid of above all is a world without butterflies, or that my children will never see a flower meadow again or wake up in the morning with a choir of singing birds, if people can survive in such a world, what kind of life will that be? A gray, depressing life, without joy. For most people, the approaching catastrophe manifests itself only in petitions on Facebook and ominous stories in the newspaper. But within ten or twenty years, it is a crisis, the fate of the insects is part of a flood of extinction, soil loss, water scarcity and climate change that is coming at us, but you rarely hear a politician here." There is a staggering lack of interest. For this problem It is bizarre: it seems we want to do everything for our children, except leaving them a healthy planet. Does Goulson think we will be in action in time? To be honest, I do not fear, we're very bad at long-term thinking, we'll first have to feel the crisis merciless, and only when millions die, we will come to action. By: Paul Q. de Vries
Everything for our children, except leaving them a healthy planet
The pollinators battle with pesticides, declining biodiversity and #climate change.
The pollinators part 1 and Pesticides Pesticides damage survival of bee colonies, landmark study shows. There has been strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees for some years but this has strengthened in the last year recently to show damage to colonies of bees. Other research has also revealed that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, prompting warnings of “ecological armageddon”. In November 2017, environment secretary Michael Gove overturned the UK’s previous opposition to tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids. “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” Gove told the Guardian. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” The environment department’s chief scientist, Prof Ian Boyd, warned in September that the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false. This followed other highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world. Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis Photo by: farmfutures.com Analysis from EU’s scientific risk assessors finds neonicotinoids pose a serious danger to all bees, making total field ban highly likely. The world’s most widely used insecticides pose a serious danger to both honeybees and wild bees, according to a major new assessment from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors. The conclusion, based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that the neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month. The report from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published on Wednesday, found that the risk to bees varied depending on the crop and exposure route, but that “for all the outdoor uses, there was at least one aspect of the assessment indicating a high risk.” Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees, such as damaging memory and reducing queen numbers. Jose Tarazona, head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, said: “The availability of such a substantial amount of data has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions. There is variability in the conclusions (and) some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.” The Efsa assessment includes bumblebees and solitary bees for the first time. It also identified that high risk to bees comes not from neonicotinoid use on non-flowering crops such as wheat, but from wider contamination of the soil and water which leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids. The assessment was welcomed by many scientists and environmentalists. “This is an important announcement that most uses of neonicotinoids are a risk to all bee species,” said Prof Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee, UK. “The greatest risk to bees is from chronic exposure due to its persistence.” Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said: “This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use across Europe”. “We have been playing Russian roulette with the future of our bees for far too long,” said Sandra Bell at Friends of the Earth. “EU countries must now back a tougher ban.” Several nations had been waiting for the Efsa report before deciding their position. However, a spokesman for Syngenta, a neonicotinoid manufacturer, said: “Efsa sadly continues to rely on a [bee risk guidance] document that is overly conservative, extremely impractical and would lead to a ban of most if not all insecticides, including organic products.” Matt Shardlow, at charity Buglife, said the risk guidance document should be urgently implemented to prevent another pesticide “blunder”. He said: “It is a tragedy that our bees, moths, butterflies and flies have been hammered by these toxins for over 15 years.” In March 2017, the Guardian revealed draft regulations from the European commission which would ban neonicotinoids from all fields across Europe, citing “high acute risks to bees”. The chemicals could still be used in closed greenhouses. Efsa’s first assessment in January 2013 found “unacceptable” risks to bees from neonicotinoids and paved the way for the partial EU ban which was passed in April 2013. It banned the use of the three main neonicotinoids on flowering crops, principally oilseed rape, as they were seen as most attractive to bees. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, destruction of flower-rich habitat and, increasingly, the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides. By: Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor The pollinators part 2 and Biodiversity Biodiversity is declining worldwide! Scientists warn that biodiversity is decreasing dangerously worldwide. This is not only bad for nature (pollinators) and ecosystem services, but also for the well-being of people. A decline in biodiversity affects the economy, the livelihood of people and food security. Is there also a bright spot? We have the knowledge to turn the tide, but now we have to get started. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as a global platform, maps out the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services and translates them into the meaning for society. After three years of hard work by more than 550 experts from 100 countries, they publish their latest report. With the most important conclusion: stop now with the non-sustainable use of nature and start restoring it. "Otherwise, we run the risk of the future we want to miss, including the ability to maintain our current standard of living," said IPBES Chairman Sir Robert Watson. America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania The IPBES report has divided the results among four regions in the world. Climate change is the greatest threat to biodiversity for North and South America. The consequence of climate change is a changing land use that will reduce the habitats of species. The habitats are already 31% smaller than for the European colonization, and are expected to decrease by 40% by 2050. Africa is a rich, but also very vulnerable continent. Many large mammals are under great pressure; in addition, the continent also has many plants, fish, reptiles and birds for which the same applies. Almost 500,000 km2 of land has been depleted due to over-exploitation of natural resources, erosion and pollution. The result is that people who are already in a bad economic position will only get it harder. The fact that the African population is expected to double to 2.5 billion inhabitants by 2050 does not really help either. Photo by: himajiefebuh.com In Southeast Asia and Oceania, coastal areas and fisheries are particularly affected by climate change. In addition, more and large quantities of invasive species occur. These are species that have ended up outside their original distribution area. If they end up in an environment where natural enemies are missing and prey are present without limit, this is a potential threat to local biodiversity. Fortunately, success stories also exist in this region. In the past 25 years, 14 percent more protected sea areas have been added, and 0.3 percent more protected areas on land. In addition, 2.5 percent more forest has been created. Europe and Central Asia A major trend in Europe and Central Asia is the intensification of agriculture and forestry. This leads to a decrease in biodiversity. In addition, the population consumes more natural sources than the region produces. Strict policies and tax reforms at national and international level should support sustainable economic growth. Turn the tide Stable ecosystems can handle changes better. In order to be able to absorb the impact of climate change, it is therefore important that species are well protected and deterioration is halted. Fortunately, there are numerous examples that show that change in policy can indeed lead to protecting and restoring biodiversity. For example, by linking nature policy to economic benefits. However, major steps can also be taken by using local knowledge and involving the indigenous population in policy plans. The most important message is to work integrally and work together across borders. This article is based on the summary of IPBES report. By: Channah Betting, Atlas Natural Capital The pollinators part 3 and Climate change Climate change threatens rare British orchid that tricks bees into mating. Researchers find that warmer temperatures are upsetting the seasonal relationship between the early spider orchid and pollinating bees. Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AP It is one of the most cunning and elaborate reproductive deceits: the early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) wafts a floral bouquet into the air that mimics the irresistible scent of a virgin female solitary mining bee, tricking gullible male bees into attempting intercourse with several flowers, thereby ensuring the plant’s pollination. But the sexual success of this rare and declining orchid in Britain is imperilled by climate change, researchers have found. The orchid’s ruse only works if a female mining bee, Andrena nigroaenea, has not emerged from hibernation, because as soon as this happens, the orchid cannot compete with the alluring scent of the real thing – and the plant is ignored by the male bees. While warmer springs cause the early spider orchid to flower earlier in May, climate warming is also causing female bees to emerge from hibernation even earlier – confounding the orchid’s attempts to dupe the male bees. Phenology is the study of how plant and animal life cycles are influenced by seasonal variations in climate. Similar phenological mismatches have been observed in other ecological relationships, such as great tit chicks no longer hatching soon enough to coincide with peak supplies of their crucial caterpillar food. They could potentially imperil the reproductive success of many species, including the pollination of plants and crops. Studying 356 years of central England temperature records, as well as specimens of early spider orchids and Andrena nigroaenea from herbariums and museums from Victorian times, researchers from the University of Sussex, the University of East Anglia, Kew and the University of Kent were able to calculate when warm spring conditions caused the female bees to emerge earlier than the orchid. Their study, published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, found that the orchid’s trick was always a delicate balancing act – even between 1659 and 1710, the peak flying date for the female bee preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 40% of the years – but it has become even more inefficient. Mean spring temperature increased from 7.68C to 8.64C over the 356-year study period, and between 1961 and 2014 the female bee’s emergence preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 80% of the years. The researchers found the female bee beat the orchid flower in 26 of the 28 years to 2014. Although one pollinated early spider orchid can produce 10,000 tiny seeds, failure to flower before the female bee emerges makes pollination almost impossible, and each orchid is very short-lived. Michael Hutchings, lead author and emeritus professor of ecology at the University of Sussex, first noticed the changes in flowering times during 32 years studying the rare orchids on the South Downs. The orchid’s range in Britain has drastically shrunk and Hutchings warned that it could become extinct in this country, with climate change also damaging populations of other less specialist plants and animals. “For years I’ve been speaking at conferences and writing papers saying if we get the habitat management right everything is going to be fine but then the climate warming actually stops the plant producing the seeds,” he said. “Ecologists have been saying for a long time that if phenologies are changed by changing climate this might disrupt important interactions in communities of species. This study provides the strongest evidence we have that something nasty is happening. There are probably lots of other undocumented cases where similar detrimental effects on species are occurring.” By: Patrick Barkham The pollinators part 4 and ‘National Seeding day’ The Pollinators open food bank for wild bees. In the past year, bee mortality was in the spotlight. It is bad with the pollinating animal species. That is why The Pollinators call on the Netherlands to sow for the bees on 22 April. At distribution points everyone can pick up organic flower seed before and during the National Seeding Day. In the region of North Limburg and Land van Cuijk, this is the social company Bijenhotel in Overloon. The pollinators also drive through the country with electric cars with ambassadors such as Egbert Jan Weeber, Hannah Hoekstra, Manuel Broekman, Kiki van Deursen, Tycho Gernandt and Adriana Mosk. Photo by: greatbasinseeds.com Without pollinators our menu would be a lot less colorful and nutritious. More than 70% of what is on our plate every day needs pollination by insects. To be able to do their important work, pollinators need enough pollen and nectar in addition to professional bee-hotels. Unfortunately, the situation is not rosy: large parts of our landscape contain virtually no variety of food for insects, and certain pesticides make the animals weak. Sowing many organic flowers provides extra concentrate. A good reason for The Pollinators to distribute kilos of seed. Planning to sow in your own neighborhood on 22 April 2018? Find a nice piece of land and get the free organic flower seeds in Overloon. On thepollinators.org you can read how exactly you get these seeds. You get a seeding instruction, so you know what to do with it. The Pollinators form a national network of people and organizations that work for pollinators, both in word and in deed. The Pollinators was started in 2016 by The Tipping Point and Nudge to draw attention to the decrease of pollinating insects. Bijenhotelkopen.nl is a partner of The Pollinators and supports the national actions to protect and support the wild bees. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/gardening---agriculture/pest-control By Marion Minten Cover photo: morningstar.netfirms.com
The pollinators part 1 and Pesticides Pesticides damage survival of bee colonies, landmark study shows. There has been strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees for some years but this has strengthened in the last year recently to show damage to colonies of bees. Other research has also revealed that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, prompting warnings of “ecological armageddon”. In November 2017, environment secretary Michael Gove overturned the UK’s previous opposition to tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids. “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” Gove told the Guardian. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” The environment department’s chief scientist, Prof Ian Boyd, warned in September that the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false. This followed other highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world. Total ban on bee-harming pesticides likely after major new EU analysis Photo by: farmfutures.com Analysis from EU’s scientific risk assessors finds neonicotinoids pose a serious danger to all bees, making total field ban highly likely. The world’s most widely used insecticides pose a serious danger to both honeybees and wild bees, according to a major new assessment from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors. The conclusion, based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that the neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month. The report from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published on Wednesday, found that the risk to bees varied depending on the crop and exposure route, but that “for all the outdoor uses, there was at least one aspect of the assessment indicating a high risk.” Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees, such as damaging memory and reducing queen numbers. Jose Tarazona, head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, said: “The availability of such a substantial amount of data has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions. There is variability in the conclusions (and) some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.” The Efsa assessment includes bumblebees and solitary bees for the first time. It also identified that high risk to bees comes not from neonicotinoid use on non-flowering crops such as wheat, but from wider contamination of the soil and water which leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids. The assessment was welcomed by many scientists and environmentalists. “This is an important announcement that most uses of neonicotinoids are a risk to all bee species,” said Prof Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee, UK. “The greatest risk to bees is from chronic exposure due to its persistence.” Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said: “This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use across Europe”. “We have been playing Russian roulette with the future of our bees for far too long,” said Sandra Bell at Friends of the Earth. “EU countries must now back a tougher ban.” Several nations had been waiting for the Efsa report before deciding their position. However, a spokesman for Syngenta, a neonicotinoid manufacturer, said: “Efsa sadly continues to rely on a [bee risk guidance] document that is overly conservative, extremely impractical and would lead to a ban of most if not all insecticides, including organic products.” Matt Shardlow, at charity Buglife, said the risk guidance document should be urgently implemented to prevent another pesticide “blunder”. He said: “It is a tragedy that our bees, moths, butterflies and flies have been hammered by these toxins for over 15 years.” In March 2017, the Guardian revealed draft regulations from the European commission which would ban neonicotinoids from all fields across Europe, citing “high acute risks to bees”. The chemicals could still be used in closed greenhouses. Efsa’s first assessment in January 2013 found “unacceptable” risks to bees from neonicotinoids and paved the way for the partial EU ban which was passed in April 2013. It banned the use of the three main neonicotinoids on flowering crops, principally oilseed rape, as they were seen as most attractive to bees. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, destruction of flower-rich habitat and, increasingly, the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides. By: Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor The pollinators part 2 and Biodiversity Biodiversity is declining worldwide! Scientists warn that biodiversity is decreasing dangerously worldwide. This is not only bad for nature (pollinators) and ecosystem services, but also for the well-being of people. A decline in biodiversity affects the economy, the livelihood of people and food security. Is there also a bright spot? We have the knowledge to turn the tide, but now we have to get started. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as a global platform, maps out the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services and translates them into the meaning for society. After three years of hard work by more than 550 experts from 100 countries, they publish their latest report. With the most important conclusion: stop now with the non-sustainable use of nature and start restoring it. "Otherwise, we run the risk of the future we want to miss, including the ability to maintain our current standard of living," said IPBES Chairman Sir Robert Watson. America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania The IPBES report has divided the results among four regions in the world. Climate change is the greatest threat to biodiversity for North and South America. The consequence of climate change is a changing land use that will reduce the habitats of species. The habitats are already 31% smaller than for the European colonization, and are expected to decrease by 40% by 2050. Africa is a rich, but also very vulnerable continent. Many large mammals are under great pressure; in addition, the continent also has many plants, fish, reptiles and birds for which the same applies. Almost 500,000 km2 of land has been depleted due to over-exploitation of natural resources, erosion and pollution. The result is that people who are already in a bad economic position will only get it harder. The fact that the African population is expected to double to 2.5 billion inhabitants by 2050 does not really help either. Photo by: himajiefebuh.com In Southeast Asia and Oceania, coastal areas and fisheries are particularly affected by climate change. In addition, more and large quantities of invasive species occur. These are species that have ended up outside their original distribution area. If they end up in an environment where natural enemies are missing and prey are present without limit, this is a potential threat to local biodiversity. Fortunately, success stories also exist in this region. In the past 25 years, 14 percent more protected sea areas have been added, and 0.3 percent more protected areas on land. In addition, 2.5 percent more forest has been created. Europe and Central Asia A major trend in Europe and Central Asia is the intensification of agriculture and forestry. This leads to a decrease in biodiversity. In addition, the population consumes more natural sources than the region produces. Strict policies and tax reforms at national and international level should support sustainable economic growth. Turn the tide Stable ecosystems can handle changes better. In order to be able to absorb the impact of climate change, it is therefore important that species are well protected and deterioration is halted. Fortunately, there are numerous examples that show that change in policy can indeed lead to protecting and restoring biodiversity. For example, by linking nature policy to economic benefits. However, major steps can also be taken by using local knowledge and involving the indigenous population in policy plans. The most important message is to work integrally and work together across borders. This article is based on the summary of IPBES report. By: Channah Betting, Atlas Natural Capital The pollinators part 3 and Climate change Climate change threatens rare British orchid that tricks bees into mating. Researchers find that warmer temperatures are upsetting the seasonal relationship between the early spider orchid and pollinating bees. Neonicotinoids, which are nerve agents, have been shown to cause a wide range of harm to bees. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AP It is one of the most cunning and elaborate reproductive deceits: the early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) wafts a floral bouquet into the air that mimics the irresistible scent of a virgin female solitary mining bee, tricking gullible male bees into attempting intercourse with several flowers, thereby ensuring the plant’s pollination. But the sexual success of this rare and declining orchid in Britain is imperilled by climate change, researchers have found. The orchid’s ruse only works if a female mining bee, Andrena nigroaenea, has not emerged from hibernation, because as soon as this happens, the orchid cannot compete with the alluring scent of the real thing – and the plant is ignored by the male bees. While warmer springs cause the early spider orchid to flower earlier in May, climate warming is also causing female bees to emerge from hibernation even earlier – confounding the orchid’s attempts to dupe the male bees. Phenology is the study of how plant and animal life cycles are influenced by seasonal variations in climate. Similar phenological mismatches have been observed in other ecological relationships, such as great tit chicks no longer hatching soon enough to coincide with peak supplies of their crucial caterpillar food. They could potentially imperil the reproductive success of many species, including the pollination of plants and crops. Studying 356 years of central England temperature records, as well as specimens of early spider orchids and Andrena nigroaenea from herbariums and museums from Victorian times, researchers from the University of Sussex, the University of East Anglia, Kew and the University of Kent were able to calculate when warm spring conditions caused the female bees to emerge earlier than the orchid. Their study, published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, found that the orchid’s trick was always a delicate balancing act – even between 1659 and 1710, the peak flying date for the female bee preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 40% of the years – but it has become even more inefficient. Mean spring temperature increased from 7.68C to 8.64C over the 356-year study period, and between 1961 and 2014 the female bee’s emergence preceded the orchid’s peak flowering in 80% of the years. The researchers found the female bee beat the orchid flower in 26 of the 28 years to 2014. Although one pollinated early spider orchid can produce 10,000 tiny seeds, failure to flower before the female bee emerges makes pollination almost impossible, and each orchid is very short-lived. Michael Hutchings, lead author and emeritus professor of ecology at the University of Sussex, first noticed the changes in flowering times during 32 years studying the rare orchids on the South Downs. The orchid’s range in Britain has drastically shrunk and Hutchings warned that it could become extinct in this country, with climate change also damaging populations of other less specialist plants and animals. “For years I’ve been speaking at conferences and writing papers saying if we get the habitat management right everything is going to be fine but then the climate warming actually stops the plant producing the seeds,” he said. “Ecologists have been saying for a long time that if phenologies are changed by changing climate this might disrupt important interactions in communities of species. This study provides the strongest evidence we have that something nasty is happening. There are probably lots of other undocumented cases where similar detrimental effects on species are occurring.” By: Patrick Barkham The pollinators part 4 and ‘National Seeding day’ The Pollinators open food bank for wild bees. In the past year, bee mortality was in the spotlight. It is bad with the pollinating animal species. That is why The Pollinators call on the Netherlands to sow for the bees on 22 April. At distribution points everyone can pick up organic flower seed before and during the National Seeding Day. In the region of North Limburg and Land van Cuijk, this is the social company Bijenhotel in Overloon. The pollinators also drive through the country with electric cars with ambassadors such as Egbert Jan Weeber, Hannah Hoekstra, Manuel Broekman, Kiki van Deursen, Tycho Gernandt and Adriana Mosk. Photo by: greatbasinseeds.com Without pollinators our menu would be a lot less colorful and nutritious. More than 70% of what is on our plate every day needs pollination by insects. To be able to do their important work, pollinators need enough pollen and nectar in addition to professional bee-hotels. Unfortunately, the situation is not rosy: large parts of our landscape contain virtually no variety of food for insects, and certain pesticides make the animals weak. Sowing many organic flowers provides extra concentrate. A good reason for The Pollinators to distribute kilos of seed. Planning to sow in your own neighborhood on 22 April 2018? Find a nice piece of land and get the free organic flower seeds in Overloon. On thepollinators.org you can read how exactly you get these seeds. You get a seeding instruction, so you know what to do with it. The Pollinators form a national network of people and organizations that work for pollinators, both in word and in deed. The Pollinators was started in 2016 by The Tipping Point and Nudge to draw attention to the decrease of pollinating insects. Bijenhotelkopen.nl is a partner of The Pollinators and supports the national actions to protect and support the wild bees. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/gardening---agriculture/pest-control By Marion Minten Cover photo: morningstar.netfirms.com
The pollinators battle with pesticides, declining biodiversity and #climate change.
The pollinators battle with pesticides, declining biodiversity and #climate change.
Our Western agriculture system is rotten according Jan Oversch (Netherlands)
Let us together ensure that the environment is tough again The entire agricultural system is focused on 'more, bigger, cheaper'. The rudder must be drastic. Bad news these days. After soil, air and water pollution, black manure, fipronil, phosphate overrun, tampering with roadside verges, manure fraud now this again. Is this the drop that makes the bucket overflow? For a long time you have read and see the consequences for the environment, soil and water as a result of our way of farming. Willens and knowingly farmers are being raised by the Wageningen UR, banks, dairies, breeding organizations, agricultural media and feed buyers to push the boundaries further towards mega agriculture. Mr. Jan Oversch Smelling the farmer We were always called and called: more, more efficient, bigger and cheaper. The Netherlands must feed the world! Also politicians from Dutch political parties; CDA, VVD and D66 can benefit from this. Customers hardly pay the cost price. By milking the farmer he thinks that expanding and intensive farming is the only way to survive, at all costs. Dairy plants such as the Dutch FrieslandCampina are now facilitating this and 'rewarding' only large farmers with, for example, solar panels or even manure digesters. All this to secure the high productions and low cost price for their raw materials and to chain farmers even further in favor of their own profits. We were always called and called: more, more efficient, bigger and cheaper. The Netherlands must feed the world! Not at all: because of this way of thinking, agricultural land that is not worth ten thousand euros in agricultural economics will be sold for up to 120 thousand euros. This gives you an even more intensive processing and overuse of the soil, with exploitation and landscape pain as a result. The rat race continues For a long time the boundary of permissible has passed, the rat race still continues. Inherited recipients such as banks, extensionists, feed, fertilizer and poison sellers continue unrestrained with the encouragement of farmers with serious consequences for the environment, water and soil, arable and meadow birds, bees, partridges, ants, etc. Is this bankrupt of Dutch industrial agriculture? Is it now visible to everyone that it must be done differently? Apparently not: agricultural media, politics and inheritants already attempt to dismiss it as a mistake, 'it is also so complicated'. They want to maintain and evoke the mega-farming industry: what are your farmers doing well? The Netherlands is the second exporter of the world. They argue for the preservation of Roundup and neonicotinoids. They forget to tell you what is at the expense. There must be a totally different way of thinking, both in politics and in agriculture itself The current intensive, non-soil-based agriculture, in which a lot of feed is imported and after which meat, dairy and eggs cross the border again for 80 to 90 percent, has been running against its borders for some time. The excess manure remains in the Netherlands and goes into a digester or incinerator. This manure is valuable raw material for the field in Verweggistan where the feed is grown. There must also be any stables, regional production. This also has serious consequences for the environment, soil, water and biodiversity. And the control can not be done, as has long been shown. New scandals will follow. What has to happen? Who dares to look further? There must be a totally different way of thinking, both in politics and in agriculture itself: the system must be turned upside down. A totally different board. The current boards only look at short-term returns and stimulate intensive non-land-based agriculture. Agricultural organization LTO seems to be a representative of the supply industry. LTO, like agriculture, will have to make a big difference. Schools and knowledge institutions also play a role. They make young farmers familiar with mega-intensive farming right from the start. Provincial and municipal authorities also play a role. In their spatial planning and zoning plans, there is a lot of space for large-scale mega-agriculture. Then there is the retail, which only hits a drum: 'The lowest price', or: 'Now even cheaper'. That message is instilled in the consumer. This way the citizen is sucked into the system. Take responsibility Consumers can take responsibility by choosing different food. Consumers are also covered. They can take responsibility by massively choosing different food, organic food. The organic way of production enables the farmer to work in harmony with nature and with the earth. Land-based agriculture: do not keep more animals than you can grow food on your own land. The feed of the land goes to the animals, the dung of the animals goes to the land. All this without poison and artificial fertilizer and no dragging of animals. It is the only way to control sustainable food production where our offspring is not presented for the pollution caused by ancestors. For example, citizens and farmers jointly take responsibility for healthy food supply. More varied landscape Mr. Hans van der Broek, WhatsOrb The organic farmer also creates a much more varied landscape, where flowering grasslands, herb-rich fields and beautiful wood gables are given a place again. Where there is place and feed for meadow birds, mammals, bees, butterflies, etc. A landscape where life is good. This is also much nicer for the farmer. He can enjoy himself again in his profession. The farms are becoming more balanced again. There is a future for our children's children. Together, let us ensure that the environment becomes tough again, and not the mega stalls. Nature works perfectly, but we always destroy her. Treat nature as your friend: you do not poison it. By: Jan Overesch
Let us together ensure that the environment is tough again The entire agricultural system is focused on 'more, bigger, cheaper'. The rudder must be drastic. Bad news these days. After soil, air and water pollution, black manure, fipronil, phosphate overrun, tampering with roadside verges, manure fraud now this again. Is this the drop that makes the bucket overflow? For a long time you have read and see the consequences for the environment, soil and water as a result of our way of farming. Willens and knowingly farmers are being raised by the Wageningen UR, banks, dairies, breeding organizations, agricultural media and feed buyers to push the boundaries further towards mega agriculture. Mr. Jan Oversch Smelling the farmer We were always called and called: more, more efficient, bigger and cheaper. The Netherlands must feed the world! Also politicians from Dutch political parties; CDA, VVD and D66 can benefit from this. Customers hardly pay the cost price. By milking the farmer he thinks that expanding and intensive farming is the only way to survive, at all costs. Dairy plants such as the Dutch FrieslandCampina are now facilitating this and 'rewarding' only large farmers with, for example, solar panels or even manure digesters. All this to secure the high productions and low cost price for their raw materials and to chain farmers even further in favor of their own profits. We were always called and called: more, more efficient, bigger and cheaper. The Netherlands must feed the world! Not at all: because of this way of thinking, agricultural land that is not worth ten thousand euros in agricultural economics will be sold for up to 120 thousand euros. This gives you an even more intensive processing and overuse of the soil, with exploitation and landscape pain as a result. The rat race continues For a long time the boundary of permissible has passed, the rat race still continues. Inherited recipients such as banks, extensionists, feed, fertilizer and poison sellers continue unrestrained with the encouragement of farmers with serious consequences for the environment, water and soil, arable and meadow birds, bees, partridges, ants, etc. Is this bankrupt of Dutch industrial agriculture? Is it now visible to everyone that it must be done differently? Apparently not: agricultural media, politics and inheritants already attempt to dismiss it as a mistake, 'it is also so complicated'. They want to maintain and evoke the mega-farming industry: what are your farmers doing well? The Netherlands is the second exporter of the world. They argue for the preservation of Roundup and neonicotinoids. They forget to tell you what is at the expense. There must be a totally different way of thinking, both in politics and in agriculture itself The current intensive, non-soil-based agriculture, in which a lot of feed is imported and after which meat, dairy and eggs cross the border again for 80 to 90 percent, has been running against its borders for some time. The excess manure remains in the Netherlands and goes into a digester or incinerator. This manure is valuable raw material for the field in Verweggistan where the feed is grown. There must also be any stables, regional production. This also has serious consequences for the environment, soil, water and biodiversity. And the control can not be done, as has long been shown. New scandals will follow. What has to happen? Who dares to look further? There must be a totally different way of thinking, both in politics and in agriculture itself: the system must be turned upside down. A totally different board. The current boards only look at short-term returns and stimulate intensive non-land-based agriculture. Agricultural organization LTO seems to be a representative of the supply industry. LTO, like agriculture, will have to make a big difference. Schools and knowledge institutions also play a role. They make young farmers familiar with mega-intensive farming right from the start. Provincial and municipal authorities also play a role. In their spatial planning and zoning plans, there is a lot of space for large-scale mega-agriculture. Then there is the retail, which only hits a drum: 'The lowest price', or: 'Now even cheaper'. That message is instilled in the consumer. This way the citizen is sucked into the system. Take responsibility Consumers can take responsibility by choosing different food. Consumers are also covered. They can take responsibility by massively choosing different food, organic food. The organic way of production enables the farmer to work in harmony with nature and with the earth. Land-based agriculture: do not keep more animals than you can grow food on your own land. The feed of the land goes to the animals, the dung of the animals goes to the land. All this without poison and artificial fertilizer and no dragging of animals. It is the only way to control sustainable food production where our offspring is not presented for the pollution caused by ancestors. For example, citizens and farmers jointly take responsibility for healthy food supply. More varied landscape Mr. Hans van der Broek, WhatsOrb The organic farmer also creates a much more varied landscape, where flowering grasslands, herb-rich fields and beautiful wood gables are given a place again. Where there is place and feed for meadow birds, mammals, bees, butterflies, etc. A landscape where life is good. This is also much nicer for the farmer. He can enjoy himself again in his profession. The farms are becoming more balanced again. There is a future for our children's children. Together, let us ensure that the environment becomes tough again, and not the mega stalls. Nature works perfectly, but we always destroy her. Treat nature as your friend: you do not poison it. By: Jan Overesch
Our Western agriculture system is rotten according Jan Oversch (Netherlands)
Our Western agriculture system is rotten according Jan Oversch (Netherlands)
Using bats for combating mosquitoes and other pests in gardens by providing bat houses.
Startup BatBnB hopes to help gardeners combat mosquitos and other pests by providing habitat for bats. Through an alternative roost, BatBnB encourages bats’ presence in gardens and fields to prey on undesirable insects and worms. Bats typically live in caves, mines, rock crevices, tree hollows, plant foliage, and tree bark as well as the roofs of homes, attics, football stadiums, bridges, and artificial bat houses. The BatBnB roost can provide living space when these roosts are in decline or no longer available. The wooden units safely harbor bats when they come out of hibernation and house owners benefit from their instinctive role as pest control. In exchange for protection from predators, stable temperatures, and safe shelter in which to rest and raise their pups, occupying bats take care of some damaging pests by preying on night-flying insects, moths, mosquitoes, and worms. BatBnB launched the final product line in July 2017 and hopes to raise awareness about bats and their importance for healthy ecosystems. Food Tank had the opportunity to discuss current solutions to mosquito control and the sustainable alternatives with Christopher Rännefors, co-founder of BatBnB. Food Tank (FT): What motivated you to start this project? Christopher Rännefors (CR): My business partner Harrison Broadhurst and I are both planning to start families in the next couple of years, but we also want to travel a lot before we settle down. We worry a great deal about traveling to Zika hot spots around the world because of the impact it could have on our future children as well as our own personal health. When we looked at the market, all we found were more pesticides and chemicals. There were very few good sustainable solutions. Fortunately, we knew about bats. I grew up building bat houses with my dad, and Harrison learned about bats from his mom’s science classes. We dove into the research and learned more, and that’s when our motivation evolved for the project. Yes, bats eat mosquitoes, but they also eat pests of all kinds and save the U.S. agricultural industry between US$23 billion and US$50 billion in crop damage every year. We wanted to use our respective skills, mine in marketing and entrepreneurship, and Harrison’s in design and architecture, to help raise awareness about bats through a line of designer bat houses which really helps spark the conversation about bats and their value. FT: Among the eco-friendly solutions to pests, why choose bats? CR: Bats are amazing pest eating machines, and incredibly misrepresented. Few people know about the impact that bats have on the ecosystem. All they can think about is how scary bats are because they have been brainwashed since childhood with everything from halloween props to vampire TV shows. I bet that the majority of people who are scared of bats have never seen one before—and that’s because bats avoid people. Bats stay out of our way and eat the pests while we are in bed sleeping at night. FT: What is your target market with this innovation, and which would cause a more lasting impact: domestic users or agricultural firms? CR: Farms and agricultural firms that love us will care about the landscape, decor, and aesthetic of their properties, but we’re also trying to reach farmers who really want to be serious about seeking alternative solutions to pesticides that are still effective in cutting down on pests. If companies take the time to invest in high-quality expert recommended units like BatBnB, they can house hundreds of bats, re-grow their local bat population, and potentially save thousands of dollars a year on pest control—both in damaged crops and savings from not buying as much pesticide. The product is made from rot-resistant cedar, so will last for many years outdoors without need for replacement. I also think farmers who are interested in eco/agri-tourism will be very interested in BatBnBs to show off to guests as a unique form of natural pest control. FT: What are some of the biggest challenges for bat pest control? CR: Misunderstanding bats and not looking at the facts. People fear bats for no good reason. There are already hundreds of thousands of bats living in bat houses all over North America and there isn’t a single recorded case of a bat house owner being attacked by a bat. And the biggest challenge is that bats are under threat now more than ever. They are dying by the millions, and mother bats only have a single pup every season. That’s why having safe BatBnB homes are so critical for the bats to raise their pups in a comfortable environment. FT: What are some of the policy changes you would like to see surrounding bat and wildlife conservation? CR: When we set out on this venture, we were very aware that both Harrison and I are not bat experts. That’s why we partnered closely with Merlin Tuttle, of Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation, an internationally acclaimed bat researcher, and probably the world’s foremost authority on bat houses and bat conservation. He has wholeheartedly endorsed the BatBnB product line. He says ‘the biggest single threat to bats is the major scare campaign in which a few greedy virologists are making sensational claims linking bats as sources of scary diseases in order to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from far higher public health priorities into grants for them to search for new viruses, mostly in bats.’ According to him, ‘we’re increasingly poisoning our food and water as we also kill natural enemies of pests, such as bats. Policies that continue to expand pesticide-dependent and monoculture-farming threaten both humans and bats. Government subsidies that support careless use of wind farms also pose a rapidly growing threat to bats.’
Startup BatBnB hopes to help gardeners combat mosquitos and other pests by providing habitat for bats. Through an alternative roost, BatBnB encourages bats’ presence in gardens and fields to prey on undesirable insects and worms. Bats typically live in caves, mines, rock crevices, tree hollows, plant foliage, and tree bark as well as the roofs of homes, attics, football stadiums, bridges, and artificial bat houses. The BatBnB roost can provide living space when these roosts are in decline or no longer available. The wooden units safely harbor bats when they come out of hibernation and house owners benefit from their instinctive role as pest control. In exchange for protection from predators, stable temperatures, and safe shelter in which to rest and raise their pups, occupying bats take care of some damaging pests by preying on night-flying insects, moths, mosquitoes, and worms. BatBnB launched the final product line in July 2017 and hopes to raise awareness about bats and their importance for healthy ecosystems. Food Tank had the opportunity to discuss current solutions to mosquito control and the sustainable alternatives with Christopher Rännefors, co-founder of BatBnB. Food Tank (FT): What motivated you to start this project? Christopher Rännefors (CR): My business partner Harrison Broadhurst and I are both planning to start families in the next couple of years, but we also want to travel a lot before we settle down. We worry a great deal about traveling to Zika hot spots around the world because of the impact it could have on our future children as well as our own personal health. When we looked at the market, all we found were more pesticides and chemicals. There were very few good sustainable solutions. Fortunately, we knew about bats. I grew up building bat houses with my dad, and Harrison learned about bats from his mom’s science classes. We dove into the research and learned more, and that’s when our motivation evolved for the project. Yes, bats eat mosquitoes, but they also eat pests of all kinds and save the U.S. agricultural industry between US$23 billion and US$50 billion in crop damage every year. We wanted to use our respective skills, mine in marketing and entrepreneurship, and Harrison’s in design and architecture, to help raise awareness about bats through a line of designer bat houses which really helps spark the conversation about bats and their value. FT: Among the eco-friendly solutions to pests, why choose bats? CR: Bats are amazing pest eating machines, and incredibly misrepresented. Few people know about the impact that bats have on the ecosystem. All they can think about is how scary bats are because they have been brainwashed since childhood with everything from halloween props to vampire TV shows. I bet that the majority of people who are scared of bats have never seen one before—and that’s because bats avoid people. Bats stay out of our way and eat the pests while we are in bed sleeping at night. FT: What is your target market with this innovation, and which would cause a more lasting impact: domestic users or agricultural firms? CR: Farms and agricultural firms that love us will care about the landscape, decor, and aesthetic of their properties, but we’re also trying to reach farmers who really want to be serious about seeking alternative solutions to pesticides that are still effective in cutting down on pests. If companies take the time to invest in high-quality expert recommended units like BatBnB, they can house hundreds of bats, re-grow their local bat population, and potentially save thousands of dollars a year on pest control—both in damaged crops and savings from not buying as much pesticide. The product is made from rot-resistant cedar, so will last for many years outdoors without need for replacement. I also think farmers who are interested in eco/agri-tourism will be very interested in BatBnBs to show off to guests as a unique form of natural pest control. FT: What are some of the biggest challenges for bat pest control? CR: Misunderstanding bats and not looking at the facts. People fear bats for no good reason. There are already hundreds of thousands of bats living in bat houses all over North America and there isn’t a single recorded case of a bat house owner being attacked by a bat. And the biggest challenge is that bats are under threat now more than ever. They are dying by the millions, and mother bats only have a single pup every season. That’s why having safe BatBnB homes are so critical for the bats to raise their pups in a comfortable environment. FT: What are some of the policy changes you would like to see surrounding bat and wildlife conservation? CR: When we set out on this venture, we were very aware that both Harrison and I are not bat experts. That’s why we partnered closely with Merlin Tuttle, of Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation, an internationally acclaimed bat researcher, and probably the world’s foremost authority on bat houses and bat conservation. He has wholeheartedly endorsed the BatBnB product line. He says ‘the biggest single threat to bats is the major scare campaign in which a few greedy virologists are making sensational claims linking bats as sources of scary diseases in order to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from far higher public health priorities into grants for them to search for new viruses, mostly in bats.’ According to him, ‘we’re increasingly poisoning our food and water as we also kill natural enemies of pests, such as bats. Policies that continue to expand pesticide-dependent and monoculture-farming threaten both humans and bats. Government subsidies that support careless use of wind farms also pose a rapidly growing threat to bats.’
Using bats for combating mosquitoes and other pests in gardens by providing bat houses.
Using bats for combating mosquitoes and other pests in gardens by providing bat houses.
Trade in Insects! Why?
Who spent the most on insects? Out of all EU countries, the Netherlands spends the largest amount of money on the import of live insects. In the first half of 2017, the import value was nearly five times as high as five years previously. There are relatively fewer imports of bees, while imports of other insects are on the increase. The main country of origin is Israel. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new analyses of trade figures Insects are used for the pollination of agricultural crops (e.g. bees) and for natural crop protection (e.g. parasitic wasps). They are also increasingly utilised for human and animal consumption, e.g. mealworms and grasshoppers. The Netherlands is recognised globally for its innovative approach towards the use of insects. Utilisation mainly domestic In the first half of 2017, the Netherlands imported 8.2 million euros (390 thousand kg) worth of live insects making it the largest importer of insects in the European Union, followed by Belgium and France. These three countries together account for almost 60 percent of total insect imports into the EU. Around one-third of insect imports are re-exported. In other words, the bulk of insects of foreign origin is for domestic use. Insects are also being bred locally by Dutch farmers. Bees overtaken by other insects In the first six months of 2012, the trade in bees accounted for 60 percent of total insect imports, representing an import value of slightly over 1 million euros. This flew up to 6 million euros one year later, in 2013. By the first half of 2017, it had decreased to 2.5 million euros or 30 percent of the total import value of insects. Other insects comprised seventy percent of live insect imports. Over a period of five years, their import value increased eightfold to 5.7 million euros. 4-2 million euros.  Third largest insect exporter The Netherlands takes up third place in exports of live insects with an export value of 5.6 million euros. The largest exporter is Belgium with15 million euros, followed by Slovakia with 6.2 million euros (almost entirely consisting of bees exports). Assassin bugs from Israel Many of the imported insects originate from Israel. Imports from Israel accounted for 5.6 million euros over the entire year of 2016, equivalent to 40 percent of total imports. Most of these insects were assassin bugs for natural crop protection. Dutch imports of insects from Slovakia amounted to 2.6 million euros; these were almost exclusively bees. The United Kingdom supplies nearly 2 million euros worth of insects. Dutch insect exports have Mexico as their main destination with nearly 2.6 million euros worth of insects from the Netherlands in 2016, i.e.30 percent of total insect exports.
Who spent the most on insects? Out of all EU countries, the Netherlands spends the largest amount of money on the import of live insects. In the first half of 2017, the import value was nearly five times as high as five years previously. There are relatively fewer imports of bees, while imports of other insects are on the increase. The main country of origin is Israel. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new analyses of trade figures Insects are used for the pollination of agricultural crops (e.g. bees) and for natural crop protection (e.g. parasitic wasps). They are also increasingly utilised for human and animal consumption, e.g. mealworms and grasshoppers. The Netherlands is recognised globally for its innovative approach towards the use of insects. Utilisation mainly domestic In the first half of 2017, the Netherlands imported 8.2 million euros (390 thousand kg) worth of live insects making it the largest importer of insects in the European Union, followed by Belgium and France. These three countries together account for almost 60 percent of total insect imports into the EU. Around one-third of insect imports are re-exported. In other words, the bulk of insects of foreign origin is for domestic use. Insects are also being bred locally by Dutch farmers. Bees overtaken by other insects In the first six months of 2012, the trade in bees accounted for 60 percent of total insect imports, representing an import value of slightly over 1 million euros. This flew up to 6 million euros one year later, in 2013. By the first half of 2017, it had decreased to 2.5 million euros or 30 percent of the total import value of insects. Other insects comprised seventy percent of live insect imports. Over a period of five years, their import value increased eightfold to 5.7 million euros. 4-2 million euros.  Third largest insect exporter The Netherlands takes up third place in exports of live insects with an export value of 5.6 million euros. The largest exporter is Belgium with15 million euros, followed by Slovakia with 6.2 million euros (almost entirely consisting of bees exports). Assassin bugs from Israel Many of the imported insects originate from Israel. Imports from Israel accounted for 5.6 million euros over the entire year of 2016, equivalent to 40 percent of total imports. Most of these insects were assassin bugs for natural crop protection. Dutch imports of insects from Slovakia amounted to 2.6 million euros; these were almost exclusively bees. The United Kingdom supplies nearly 2 million euros worth of insects. Dutch insect exports have Mexico as their main destination with nearly 2.6 million euros worth of insects from the Netherlands in 2016, i.e.30 percent of total insect exports.
Trade in Insects! Why?
Gardening & Agriculture

Growing food, either commercially or as a hobby is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It is however not without chalanges. Protection agains natural or man-made threats, irrigation or other treatments of the soil has to be done with care. Read all about world wide initiatives to make agriculture more sustainable in these articles.

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