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Open AccessArticle

The Role of Annual Flowering Plant Strips on a Melon Crop in Central Spain. Influence on Pollinators and Crop

1
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ETSIAAB-UPM), Avenida Puerta de Hierro 2-4, 28040 Madrid, Spain
2
Unidad Asociada IVAS (UPM-CSIC): Control de Insectos Vectores bajo sistemas de Agricultura Sostenible, 28040 Madrid, Spain
3
Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, O.A., M.P. (INIA), Carretera de la Coruña Km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain
4
Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (ICA-CSIC), Serrano 115 Dpdo, 28006 Madrid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(1), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010066
Received: 11 November 2019 / Revised: 8 January 2020 / Accepted: 16 January 2020 / Published: 20 January 2020
Planting flower strips adjacent to crops is among the habitat-management practices employed to offer alternative floral resources to pollinators. However, more information is needed to understand their potential spill-over of pollinators on nearby insect-pollinated crops. Over the course of two consecutive years, the suitability of a flower mixture of 10 herbaceous plants for pollinators was evaluated on a weekly basis, in a randomized block design of two melon plots (10 × 10 m2) with or without 1 m-wide flower strips. Floral coverage and pollinator visits to the plant species, as well as pollinator visits and the yield and quality of the crop, were assessed. Additionally, the selected mixture was tested for 1 year in a commercial field in order to ascertain how far the flower strip could influence visitors in the crop. The most suitable species for a flower strip in central Spain based on their attractiveness, floral coverage and staggered blossom were Coriandrum sativum L., Diplotaxis virgata L., Borago officinalis L. and Calendula officinalis L. The flower strip can act as either pollinator competitor or facilitator to the crop, depending on their floral coverage and/or the predominant species during the crop bloom period. The concurrence of blooming of the rewarding plant C. officinalis with the melon crop should be avoided in our area. In the commercial field, the bee visitation rate in the melon flowers decreased with the distance to the flower strip. No influence of the specific flower strip evaluated on crop productivity or quality was found. View Full-Text
Keywords: agri-environment scheme; ecosystem services; wild bees; attractiveness; interspecific competition; facilitation agri-environment scheme; ecosystem services; wild bees; attractiveness; interspecific competition; facilitation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Azpiazu, C.; Medina, P.; Adán, Á.; Sánchez-Ramos, I.; del Estal, P.; Fereres, A.; Viñuela, E. The Role of Annual Flowering Plant Strips on a Melon Crop in Central Spain. Influence on Pollinators and Crop. Insects 2020, 11, 66.

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