Gardening news – read our summary of the latest news in the gardening world here
Bees – pesticides
EU states are due to vote today on a 2-year ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which threaten the survival of bees and other pollinators. Should the ban be approved, it will only apply to crops that are attractive to bees – professional growers will still be able to use the pesticides on other crops, including winter cereals. Research indicates that neonicotinoids affects bees’ brains in such a way that they are unable to find nectar to bring back to the hive.
Update: The EU has banned three neonicotinoid pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. The moratorium is due to be in place by 1st December.
Can culling badgers save songbirds?
From June, 5,000 badgers will be culled in a four-year trial to try to control the spread of tuberculosis in cattle. What’s that got to do with songbirds? Badgers are known to kill and eat small songbirds such as blackbirds, yellowhammers and skylarks. Defra is hoping to carry out research to find out whether the badger cull will have a positive effect on songbird populations, which have fallen by more than 40 million in the last 4 decades.
Grow ivy to feed honey bees in the autumn
Despite its somewhat bad reputation for damaging brickwork and smothering trees, ivy is an important food source for honeybees. Mature ivy plants produce small green flowers that homey bees feed on in the autumn, when flowers are scarce. Many gardeners are keen to cut ivy down, but if you’ve got ivy growing on a fence, it’s well worth leaving the plant to mature for honey bees to feed on.
New hybrid grass may reduce flooding
UK researchers have developed a grass that may help to reduce flooding caused by water run-off from grazing areas into river systems. The roots of the new grass, a hybrid of perennial ryegrass and meadow fescue, improved the structure of heavy clay soils. This means that the soil is able to hold more water and reduces run-off by 51%.
The Archers… in Afghanistan
A British soldier and farmer by trade who is currently on tour in Afghanistan has created a local equivalent of The Archers. The show, ‘Crops and the Farmer’, aims to help farmers to grow alternative crops to opium and is proving to be a real hit.