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Insects 2017, 8(3), 101; doi:10.3390/insects8030101

Getting More Power from Your Flowers: Multi-Functional Flower Strips Enhance Pollinators and Pest Control Agents in Apple Orchards

1
Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, Tv. Dr Enéas Pinheiro, S/N, Belém, PA 66095-100, Brazil
2
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
3
Jealotts Hill International Research Centre, Syngenta UK, Jealott’s Hill, Bracknell RG42 6EY, UK
4
Biobest Belgium NV, Ilse Velden 18, 2260 Westerlo, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alberto Pozzebon, Carlo Duso, Gregory M. Loeb and Geoff M. Gurr
Received: 14 August 2017 / Revised: 4 September 2017 / Accepted: 12 September 2017 / Published: 20 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arthropod Pest Control in Orchards and Vineyards)
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Abstract

Flower strips are commonly recommended to boost biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services (e.g., pollination and pest control) on farmland. However, significant knowledge gaps remain regards the extent to which they deliver on these aims. Here, we tested the efficacy of flower strips that targeted different subsets of beneficial arthropods (pollinators and natural enemies) and their ecosystem services in cider apple orchards. Treatments included mixes that specifically targeted: (1) pollinators (‘concealed-nectar plants’); (2) natural enemies (‘open-nectar plants’); or (3) both groups concurrently (i.e., ‘multi-functional’ mix). Flower strips were established in alleyways of four orchards and compared to control alleyways (no flowers). Pollinator (e.g., bees) and natural enemy (e.g., parasitoid wasps, predatory flies and beetles) visitation to flower strips, alongside measures of pest control (aphid colony densities, sentinel prey predation), and fruit production, were monitored in orchards over two consecutive growing seasons. Targeted flower strips attracted either pollinators or natural enemies, whereas mixed flower strips attracted both groups in similar abundance to targeted mixes. Natural enemy densities on apple trees were higher in plots containing open-nectar plants compared to other treatments, but effects were stronger for non-aphidophagous taxa. Predation of sentinel prey was enhanced in all flowering plots compared to controls but pest aphid densities and fruit yield were unaffected by flower strips. We conclude that ‘multi-functional’ flower strips that contain flowering plant species with opposing floral traits can provide nectar and pollen for both pollinators and natural enemies, but further work is required to understand their potential for improving pest control services and yield in cider apple orchards. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecology; ecological intensification; agri-environment schemes; floral traits; conservation biological control; ecosystem services; beneficial arthropods agroecology; ecological intensification; agri-environment schemes; floral traits; conservation biological control; ecosystem services; beneficial arthropods
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, A.J.; Wilby, A.; Sutton, P.; Wäckers, F. Getting More Power from Your Flowers: Multi-Functional Flower Strips Enhance Pollinators and Pest Control Agents in Apple Orchards. Insects 2017, 8, 101.

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