Bilpin Orchard. Photo credit: Dr Amy Gilpin.
Western Sydney University researchers have been working with the Wheen Bee Foundation to produce a new pollinator-friendly planting guide to support horticultural producers in the Blue Mountains region.
The ‘Powerful pollinators: Encouraging insect pollinators in farm landscapes’ guide will assist growers in the Bilpin region to select native plants that attract insect pollinators to their properties, including bees, butterflies and moths, to increase crop fertilisation and yield.
The research team, comprising Professor Sally Power, Dr Amy Gilpin and Professor James Cook from Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, hope the guide raises awareness for pollinators as an essential component of agricultural production and healthy, biodiverse landscapes.
“Protecting and enhancing pollinator resources on farms will help support a diverse range of pollinators,” said Dr Gilpin.
The guide provides an introduction to the role of insect pollinators on farms, along with information on how to choose native plants that will support a diverse range of pollinators throughout the year.
Focused on the Bilpin area, where the team has been undertaking Hort Frontiers-funded research into apple and cherry pollination over the past four years, the recommended plants are indigenous to the region and suitable for its climate and soils.
“Without insect pollinators, the quantity and diversity of food and flowers grown in gardens would be severely restricted. Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat, from gardens and farms, depend on insects for pollination,” added Professor Power.
In addition to identifying 34 native plant species growing around Bilpin and an additional 21 from the broader Blue Mountains area, the guide suggests several measures growers can take to support pollinators on their properties including:
- Create pollination reservoirs
- Construct insect real estate
- Get to know your local flora
- Reduce chemical use.
The ‘Powerful pollinators: Encouraging insect pollinators in farm landscapes’ guide for Bilpin, Blue Mountains is one of a series of resources the team is developing with the Wheen Bee Foundation. Future guides will focus on Western Sydney and South Sydney.