Pollination deficits in UK apple orchards
Apple production in the UK is worth over £100 million per annum and this production is heavily dependent on insect pollination. Despite its importance, it is not clear which insect pollinators carry out the majority of this pollination. Furthermore, it is unknown whether current UK apple production, in terms of both yield and quality, suffers pollination deficits and whether production value could be increased through effective management of pollination services. The present study set out to address some of these unknowns and showed that solitary bee activity is high in orchards and that they could be making a valuable contribution to pollination. Furthermore, fruit set and apple seed number were found to be suffering potential pollination deficits although these were not reflected in apple quality. Deficits could be addressed through orchard management practices to improve the abundance and diversity of wild pollinators. Such practices include provision of additional floral resources and nesting habitats as well as preservation of semi-natural areas. The cost effectiveness of such strategies would need to be understood taking into account the potential gains to the apple industry.
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