Agronomic Traits in Oilseed Rape ( Brassica napus ) Can Predict Foraging Resources for Insect Pollinators

Stacey M. Fairhurst*, Lorna J. Cole, Tereza Kocarkova, Catherine Jones-Morris, Andy Evans, Gail Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Mass-flowering crops, such as oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus), provide pulses of nectar and pollen, helping to support pollinators and their pollination services in agricultural landscapes. Despite their value to declining pollinators, varietal in-field OSR testing focusses on agronomic traits, with floral resources being largely overlooked. OSR has a high varietal turnover, and consequently, floral resource data collected for a specific variety quickly become redundant. Here, we explore the potential to predict floral resource availability using agronomic trait data routinely collected in varietal trials. To build predictive models, we investigated the relationships between agronomic traits and pollen and nectar availability in 19 OSR varieties. Nectar quality was positively influenced by early vigour, as well as winter hardiness in conventional varieties and stem stiffness in hybrid varieties. Pollen quantity was driven by different traits, with early maturation having a negative impact in conventional varieties and resistance to lodging having a positive impact in hybrid varieties. Our study highlights the potential to predict floral resources using agronomic trait data, enabling the rapid assessment of these key resources in future OSR varieties without costly sampling. Agronomic traits relating to increased nectar quality were also agronomically favourable, indicating benefits to both pollinators and growers. The inclusion of modelled floral resource data in recommended varietal lists would enable growers to make informed decisions about varietal selection based on local pollinator populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere440
JournalAgronomy
Volume11
Issue number3
Early online date27 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Brassica napus
  • oilseed rape
  • floral resources
  • agronomic traits
  • pollinators
  • pollination services
  • sustainability

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