Greenkeepers urged to establish pollinator schemes in the rough

Greenkeepers are being encouraged to introduce pollinator schemes to their golf courses on the back of their success on agricultural land.

Delegates at the Turf Science Live event in Bingley, Yorkshire, last week were talked through the benefits of transforming their roughs into pollinator schemes. The project started 10 years ago and has developed through various guises, such as the Buzz Project and Operation Bumblebee.

Syngenta turf and landscape technical manager Dr Simon Watson explained: "The project has now become Operation Pollinator and, building on its success, we are hoping to expand it across Europe. Our goals are to mimic what we have done in agriculture and try to bring in an agronomic solution for greenkeepers."

Trial pollinator schemes were launched at the Sports Turf Research Institute by turfgrass protection head Dr Ruth Mann. "It's such a good idea and well established in agriculture," she said.

"We want to have flowering species that go through the whole of the summer so that the insects have food the whole way through. You are not looking for plants coming back each year, you are looking for seed coming back. This is in the process of being written up and hopefully that will give it some weight to show it really works."

Flower species used in trial plots include red clover, yarrow and wild carrot, which were sown after scarifying and adding PrimoMaxx to existing grass. Greenkeepers are advised to factor in a two-year period to establish pollinator schemes on the roughs of their golf courses.

Pollinators are also featuring on the political stage, with environment minister Caroline Spelman referring to them during the launch of Defra's white paper for the natural environment.

Spelman said: "Our honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators contribute up to £440m to our economy every year - that's 13 per cent of the country's entire income from farming. Defra is providing £2.5m over the next five years as part of a join initiative to better understand what the threats to our pollinators are."

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