A citizen science project by the University of Sussex has found that urban growers in Brighton and Hove were able to harvest 1kg of insect-pollinated fruit and vegetables per one metre square, which is within the range of conventional farming. These preliminary results will be presented at Ecology Across Borders on Wednesday 15th December (9.45am, People & Nature session) by Dr Beth Nicholls, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, at the University of Sussex.
The yields the urban farmers were able to harvest averaged 70kg over a season and were achieved with limited pesticide use, indicating benefits to biodiversity through habitat creation and low environmental damage compared to conventional farming practices.
The researchers calculated that an average of £380 worth of produce per grower was thanks to insect pollination, with berries being the most attractive crop to pollinators. Over the two-year period, the volunteers recorded over 2000 pollinating insects visiting their crops. Bees were the most common group of pollinating visitors accounting for 43% of all flower visits. Surprisingly, flies were also important visitors, accounting for 34% of insect visits.
Dr Beth Nicholls said: “In a world of increasing urbanisation in both the developing and developed worlds, producing food in and around cities has the potential to improve both nutritional and health outcomes, alleviate poverty and simultaneously provide habitat for wildlife and create sustainable cities.”
Read the complete article at www.britishecologicalsociety.org.