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Enhancing Biodiversity of the Agro-Ecosystem

Restoring and protecting 1M hectares of additional pollinator habitat, including the inclusion of “bee friendly” plant species in cover crop mixtures could easily help meet this mandate, could help meet mandates laid out by the provincial government.

Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Elizabeth Lee
Other investigators: Bill Deen, David Hooker, Eric Lyons

What challenge does "Enhancing Biodiversity of the Agro-Ecosystem" address?

Creating agro-ecosystems that more closely mimic diverse natural ecosystems through the use of cover crops (crops used for the purpose of enriching and preserving soil) and restoration of non-productive land.

How will this research address the challenge?

Elizabeth Lee’s team will evaluate the economic and environmental benefits associated with the use of cover crops, assess cover crop and pollinator habitat species leading to the creation of dual-purpose cover crops that will serve as pollinator habitats, and conduct small-scale restoration of native Ontario prairie ecosystems.

What impact will the project have on agriculture?

Enhancing biodiversity of the agricultural landscape, address climate change challenges, provide benefits such as: wild pollinators and natural enemies of crop pests, nutrient cycling, soil C sequestration, capture of sediment and nutrients in run-off, water filtration, and enhancement of the local and regional water cycles, and increased productivity from surrounding cropland.

Key messages

Agriculture represents potentially the greatest opportunity to supply pollinator habitats at one of the most vulnerable times: the fall. The greatest opportunity for introducing mass flowering crops on a landscape-scale in southwestern Ontario is through the inclusion of cover crops in the cropping system. Restoring and protecting 1M hectares of additional pollinator habitat, including the inclusion of “bee friendly” plant species in cover crop mixtures could easily help meet this mandate, could help meet mandates laid out by the provincial government.

Other information

Partners: Pickseed.

Collaborators and students: Matt Stewart (MSc student), Erik Lyons (post-doc), Brett Hilker (MSc starting in May 2018), and Kirsten Radcliffe (MSc starting in May 2018), and Ling Shi (MSc student).

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