Syngenta says wildfower mix is low-cost answer

Syngenta has said its annual wildflower mix for growers offers a low-cost way to help pollinating insects without having to commit to long-term meadow management.

Launched in partnership with the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) and Kings Seeds, the 350 packs can each create a hectare of grass-free annual wildflower meadow at a cost of £35 each - a price 50 per cent subsidised by Syngenta.

Syngenta's environmental initiatives manager Belinda Bailey said: "We have worked with Kings on this for a number of years to get it right. They can provide a huge boost for pollinating insects that, crucially, lasts right through the season. You just scatter it in early autumn and roll it in. Then you can either let it set seed for a second year or just spray it off."

Specialist vegetable supplier Barfoots of Botley has helped investigate the benefits to vegetable growers, she added. "Clovers for example benefit broad and runner bean pollination."

Grower Tom Meikle of Wick Grange Farm, an arable and vegetable farm in Worcestershire, said: "Honeybees are less well-equipped to pollinate crops like runner beans."

Having developed wildflower areas at the farm for over 10 years, he said: "You will never recreate an ancient wildflower meadow. But we spray less of celery and especially spring onions."

Kings Seeds crop specialist Mark Bull said there had already been "tremendous uptake" of the packs since their launch at the Cereals show earlier this month, due in part to their affordability. "You could pay up to £500 a hectare for native perennial seed, which combined with the labour and diesel, doesn't stack up for growers."

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