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Organic Farming Improves Pollination Success in Strawberries

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Pollination of insect-pollinated crops has been found to be correlated to pollinator abundance and diversity. Since organic farming has the potential to mitigate the negative effects of agricultural intensification on biodiversity, it may also benefit crop pollination, but direct evidence of this is scant.

This study by Georg K. S. Andersson, Maj Rundlöf, Henrik G. Smith evaluates the effect of organic farming on the pollination of strawberry plants focusing on (1) if pollination success was higher on organic farms compared to conventional farms, and (2) if there was a time lag from conversion to organic farming until an effect was manifested. It found that pollination success and the proportion of fully pollinated berries were higher on organic compared to conventional farms and this difference was already evident 2–4 years after conversion to organic farming. Results suggest that conversion to organic farming may rapidly increase pollination success and hence benefit the ecosystem service of crop pollination regarding both yield quantity and quality.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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