Making farms good for crops and bees

Oilseed rape being drilled.
Oilseed rape being drilled.

As rapeseed oil farmers wait to see what effect the neonicotinoid insecticide ban has on emerging crops a meeting has been called to save bees.

The European Commission banned three neonicotinoid insecticides because research showed they were harmful to honeybees.

However, agronomist and director of Boothmans Agricultural Ltd at Bourne Robert Boothman says trial-based evidence leading to the ban was not “representing typical in-field use” of the insecticides.

He said: “Many university studies have reported no adverse effects to bee colonies were ever observed in field studies at field-realistic exposure conditions. More likely poor bee health was correlated with the presence of the Varro mite, viruses and many other factors.”

He added that since the ban, farmers would need to use “more, less specific insecticides to achieve the same level of control”, something concerning organic farmer Nicholas Watts.

Nicholas said: “You might have to put two sprays of something else on (to crops) and that might be as bad as neonicotinoids.”

Lincolnshire farmers, nature campaigners and others are discussing action to save the county’s bees at a public meeting called by Friends of the Earth at Lincoln Drill Hall on Thursday (7pm).

Friends of the Earth say more than 20 UK bee species are already extinct and a quarter of the remaining 267 species are at risk.

At the meeting the Government will be urged to improve its new national Bee Action Plan to protect pollinators so that it tackles all the threats bees face “from pesticides to how land is used”.

Lincolnshire farmer Peter Lundgren will talk about how he is growing oilseed rape without neonicotinoids, and call for more Government support for farmers.