In an as yet unpublished trial of common tank mixes including fungicides, she said: "In the first two weeks there was no difference to the control, but in the third week significant toxicity was seen even with chemicals that were thought to be safe."
She added: "We want to get the best out of pollinators in terms of crop quality because it helps cell division and gives you perfect symmetrical fruit."
She pointed out that the 50 per cent loss of pollinator diversity since the 1980s "has levelled out but we are left with generalists, especially ground-nesting bees of the genus Andrena, which are responsible for 50 per cent of apple pollination".
Her colleague Dylan Hodgkiss said: "Strawberries may turn out malformed if only partly pollinated - different pollinators behave differently on the flowers. One small solitary bee only pollinates the edges so the tip is unpollinated."
Hodgkiss is currently conducting research on the role of hoverflies in both pollination and aphid control for strawberries. "Each hoverfly larva can consume 1,000 aphids," he said.
Fountain added: "It's surprising we don't get hoverflies predating aphids in strawberries as we do in apples. Potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae) is a particular problem as it's active early in the season and has few predators, meaning you have to spray."
Honeybees are problematic as pollinators of protected strawberries because "they don't like people in the tunnel with them", she said.