Artificial landscapes for wild pollinators are being created in Ukraine

War is war, but agriculture is on schedule. Agricultural production, based on natural cycles, determines the rhythm for the movement of the whole life of humanity and its economy. As they say, nature does not wait and does not adapt to the human problems it creates in itself. Violation of the pace and order of work at any stage leads to a deterioration in yields and productivity and in the worst case to a completely negative result of the entire agricultural period. Even a year that has fallen from a farmer’s life leads him to huge losses and disaster. The extraction of tens of hectares of land, the destruction of infrastructure and equipment during the hostilities, created additional, and sometimes insurmountable, difficulties for Ukrainian rural workers. However, farmers are holding on to the food front, continuing to incorporate the principles of sustainable agriculture, taking care of natural ecosystems and soil conditions, according to

No matter how bad things are, Ukraine still has pockets of stable and prosperous agricultural production. One of these farms “Shirokostup” in the south of the Kiev region. Chief Alexander Shirokostup told AgroTime about how realistic it is to implement global biodiversity restoration issues on a small farm scale and what practical results this can have.

Life on earth is impossible without the concept of biodiversity. In Ukraine, due to large-scale plowing of land, urbanization and now military operations, the number of pollinating insects is declining rapidly. Every unpolished flower is a loss of the future harvest, Alexander Vasilyevich shared his opinion

For several consecutive years we have been carrying out a rather unusual but very important project, having equipped “mini hotels” for pollinators. Initially, we studied a similar experience in Hungary. Then we developed our own action plan. Based on the tractor brigade, the area was cleared, weeds removed and the ground prepared for the sowing of honey plants, the seeds of which were provided by Syngenta.

For insects, it is important to arrange a continuous attractive flowering carrier, so we sow asparagus, sweet clover, alfalfa, scallop, mustard. They in turn bloom, providing food to the insects throughout the summer. Paulownia also landed. This small patch attracts an extremely large number of insects, including many wild pollinators.

For the nest of wild bees and wasps, six houses were equipped in the reserve. These are actually unnecessary logs that exist in any household, in which holes of different diameters have been drilled. They were placed in a frame under a tree canopy – this is the “hotel” for insect pollination. We plan to add more homes this year.

Of course, there are many apiaries in Ukraine, but they are not enough for complete pollination, after all, wild bees pollinate plants better and more productively, as they need saw, not nectar, for food. And in the present circumstances, this question is even more crucial.

It is necessary to restore the number of wild pollinators – bees and bumblebees. Everyone benefits from this, because conserving biodiversity actually means conserving life. It is better to dust the plants, we will get more products, we will be able to feed more people. Ukraine is a granary, we have great potential, given the black soil, but maximum attention must be paid to pollinators. It will be beneficial for both man and nature.

We have already done a lot in this regard: so that our pollinators have a place to collect pollen, so that they have an adequate food base, to multiply and grow in numbers. Then we will definitely add 20% to the performance indicators.

Of course, not everything was possible at the same time, but in the process of working they found the best solutions. We now actually have a well-established roadmap for building such stocks and are ready to share our experience with everyone.

During the working period of the reserve, the number of pollinators and insectivores (insects that eat parasites, especially aphids) has increased several times. I’m glad to see this result. Therefore, we will continue to work on biodiversity restoration in the future and plan to expand the reserve.

From the presence of the reserve, in general, we received at least a 10% increase in average yield and in some fields closer to the reserve, there were even 20% each. The quality has also improved, especially the fullness and weight of the sunflower seeds. It is no secret that farmers in all areas suffer from infertility of crops. Of course, improving performance is not just about micro-inventory. We have also encouraged many beekeepers to set up their apiaries in our fields. Together they made it possible to achieve such a result.

By the way, it is not always necessary to sow special honey plants. All you have to do is save what you already have – forest areas with grassy plumes, ravines and beams unsuitable for growing cultivated plants. If you do not touch them, do not plow and mow, do not burn dead wood – these will be natural sources for the life of wild pollinators.

In our economy, first of all, the task is to maintain the fertility of the soil, to restore and improve its biochemical composition. The founder of this project was a scientist, a great man – Alexander Ivashchenko. Unfortunately he passed away. This has hit us and our relatives very hard; in general, Ukrainian science has suffered a great loss. But we as his students will continue his work.

Since 2016, anti-corrosion measures have been carried out in an area with low altitude: chiseling, special transverse sowing. Humus was added to reduce soil erosion. We have our own livestock, so we can put organic fertilizers, we have to do it. Because when you have, you can and you do not, it is a crime. And when you do, everything will be fine.

Thus, we managed to achieve a significant increase in the proportion of humus, we also adjust the pH values ​​to reduce the acidity. I will give specific data: for several years, the humus content decreased from 3.82% to 3.94%, the acidity level decreased from pH 6.3 to 6.84 and it was possible to normalize productive moisture reserves.

The size of the surface runoff of rainwater has been reduced by more than 10 times. As a result, the condition of the plants in the lowlands, in the area where erosion processes used to be observed, now does not differ from the total mass. They were also satisfied with the harvest.

We now have about 3 thousand hectares in processing. Our crop rotation includes winter wheat, winter rapeseed, sunflower, corn, barley, peas, soybeans, sugar beets and buckwheat. We sow buckwheat for both bees and our consumer to buy products grown in Ukraine. Apply the minimum required amount of pesticides. After all, working on the ground, you must take care of people’s health and now do everything to make a healthy nation flourish in our peaceful country.

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