For the month of January, the top NRM tip is: think beyond the crop, consider your surrounding natural areas.
To improve the abundance and diversity of natural predators and pollinators (like the European honey bee), consider native vegetation as part of your cropping system. Research shows that native vegetation along field edges can increase pest control in the field, and if pressure is still high, pollination can reduce the yield loss.
Native vegetation helps natural predators, such as insects, birds bats, frogs, lizards and some small mammals, persist in the landscape by providing habitat during periods of fallow, drought and insecticide spraying. Many natural predators have limited dispersal ability and can only move upto 1km from native vegetation. Therefore the better linked patches and corridors of native vegetation are to cropping areas the greater the potential benefit.
Insecticide spraying is highly disruptive to both aquatic and terrestrial natural ecosystems and the services they deliver with most insecticides being toxic to aquatic organisms, birds and bees. Bees are particularly susceptible to many of the insecticides used on cotton farms, such as abamectin, fipronil, indoxacarb and pyrethroids.
Follow best management practices for broad-spectrum insecticide application and where possible reduce their use. Use communication tools such as BeeConnected to reduce potential negative impacts to bee health. BeeConnected is a nation-wide, user-driven smartphone app and website that enables collaboration between beekeepers, farmers and spray contractors to facilitate best-practice pollinator protection.
This blog is part of a year long program from CottonInfo, with the themes aligned with the 2019 CottonInfo cotton calendar. For more information, view the calendar, or contact the CottonInfo Technical Lead for Natural Resources, Stacey Vogel.