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Pollination merely 1 production factor
Date:6/5/2013

This news release is available in German.

All over the world, bees are dying and insect diversity is dwindling. Only recently, both the media and scientists expressed fears that insect pollination is in decline, which jeopardises food security. The (lack of) pollination has thus become a sound argument for the protection of species and natural habitats, and organic farming.

ETH-Zurich researchers from the group headed by Jaboury Ghazoul, professor of ecosystem management, set about investigating this argument by studying the influence of pollinator insects on coffee harvests in an agroforestry system at coffee plantations in the province of Kodagu in southern India. They also included soil and forest management, environmental factors such as water and soil fertility, and tree cover for the cultures in their study.

The research group thus obtained a different picture of the role of pollinators to the popular perception of this cultivation system of "no bees, no harvest". According to their findings, pollinator bees are merely one production factor among many and to some extent coffee farmers can increase the productivity of their plantations independently of the insects. The results of the study have just been published in the journal PNAS.

Important but not the only factor

"Pollinators are important for coffee farmers," stresses Ghazoul; "as far as effective coffee growing and increasing harvests are concerned, however, they are much less important than irrigation or liming, for instance." This encapsulates one of the central findings from coffee farming in the Kodagu province.

Coffee is grown in a traditional agroforestry system in the region. As coffee plants must not be grown in direct sunlight, they are planted in the forest'
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Contact: Jaboury Ghazoul
jaboury.ghazoul@env.ethz.ch
41-446-328-627
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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