UK Open Farm Sunday: Visitors to farms to take part in pollinator survey
Visitors to farms are being asked to take part in a survey of insects to help farmers preserve important pollinators of crops.
The first national farm pollinator survey is being conducted as part of Open Farm Sunday, an annual event in which farmers open their gates to the public to let them see how food is produced.
The survey on selected farms will ask visitors to record how many insects they see in a field of oilseed rape and in a wildflower margin.
Members of the public will also be asked to look out for five insects, including the common blue butterfly and the 14-spot ladybird, anywhere on the farm they are visiting.
Experts who have teamed up with Open Farm Sunday organisers Leaf (Linking Environment And Farming) will use the information from the survey to improve the understanding of the ecology of insects visiting flowers on farms.
It is hoped the information will help farmers conserve and encourage insects which play a crucial role in the pollination of crops such as apples, tomatoes and courgettes, but many of which are in decline in the countryside.
The survey also aims to raise awareness among members of the public that it is not just bees which are important for pollinating plants.
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Dr Helen Roy, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “Visitors will be asked to spend a little time recording how many insects they see in two different habitats, such as a field of oilseed rape and a margin of wildflowers.
“In addition the ecologists have selected five insects, including the common blue butterfly and 14-spot ladybird, for visitors to record anywhere on the farm they visit.
“After Open Farm Sunday all the research will be collated and analysed by a team of scientists and the results shared with farmers to help them conserve pollinating insects on their farms.”
Open Farm Sunday takes place on June 17, with farms across the country open to the public. For information on farms to visit, go to www.farmsunday.org.