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Evidence for pollinator cost and farming benefits of neonicotinoid seed coatings on oilseed rape

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Giles Budge

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

Chronic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides has been linked to reduced survival of pollinating insects at both the individual and colony level, but so far only experimentally. Analyses of large-scale datasets to investigate the real-world links between the use of neonicotinoids and pollinator mortality are lacking. Moreover, the impacts of neonicotinoid seed coatings in reducing subsequent applications of foliar insecticide sprays and increasing crop yield are not known, despite the supposed benefits of this practice driving widespread use. Here, we combine large-scale pesticide usage and yield observations from oilseed rape with those detailing honey bee colony losses over an 11 year period, and reveal a correlation between honey bee colony losses and national-scale imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) usage patterns across England and Wales. We also provide the first evidence that farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings reduce the number of subsequent applications of foliar insecticide sprays and may derive an economic return. Our results inform the societal discussion on the pollinator costs and farming benefits of prophylactic neonicotinoid usage on a mass flowering crop.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Budge GE, Garthwaite D, Crowe A, Boatman ND, Delaplane KS, Brown MA, Thygesen HH, Pietravalle S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2015

Volume: 5

Online publication date: 20/08/2015

Acceptance date: 25/06/2015

Date deposited: 27/06/2018

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep12574

DOI: 10.1038/srep12574

PubMed id: 26270806


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