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Insect pollination is important in a smallholder bean farming system

Insect pollination is important in a smallholder bean farming system

Filemon, Elisante, Ndakidemi, Patrick A., Arnold, Sarah E. J. ORCID: 0000-0001-7345-0529, Belmain, Steven R. ORCID: 0000-0002-5590-7545, Gurr, Geoff M., Darbyshire, Iain, Xie, Gang and Stevenson, Philip C. ORCID: 0000-0002-0736-3619 (2020) Insect pollination is important in a smallholder bean farming system. PeerJ, 8:e10102. ISSN 2167-8359 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10102)

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Abstract

Background:
Many crops are dependent on pollination by insects. Habitat management in agricultural landscapes can support pollinator services and even augment crop production. Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an important legume for the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in many low-income countries, particularly so in East Africa. While this crop is autogamous, it is frequently visited by pollinating insects that could improve yields. However, the value of pollination services to common beans (Kariasii) yield is not known.

Methods:
We carried out pollinator-exclusion experiments to determine the contribution of insect pollinators to bean yields. We also carried out a fluorescent-dye experiment to evaluate the role of field margins as refuge for flower-visitors.

Results:
Significantly higher yields, based on pods per plant and seeds per pod, were recorded from open-pollinated and hand-pollinated flowers compared to plants from which pollinators had been excluded indicating that flower visitors contribute significantly to bean yields. Similarly, open and hand-pollinated plants recorded the highest mean seed weight. Extrapolation of yield data to field scale indicated a potential increase per hectare from 681 kg in self-pollinated beans to 1478 kg in open-pollinated beans indicating that flower visitors contributed significantly to crop yield of beans. Our marking study indicated that flower-visiting insects including bees, flies and lepidopterans moved from the field margin flowers into the bean crop. Overall, these results show that insect pollinators are important for optimising bean yields and an important food security consideration on smallholder farms. Field margin vegetation also provides habitat for flower-visiting insects that pollinate beans. Hence, non-crop habitats merit further research focusing on establishing which field margin species are most important and their capacity to support other ecosystem services such as natural pest regulation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: pollinators, phaseolus vulgaris, smallholders, crop yield, ecosystem services, field margins
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Chemical Ecology Research Group
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2020 15:37
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/29940

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