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Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 13;5:12574. doi: 10.1038/srep12574.

Evidence for pollinator cost and farming benefits of neonicotinoid seed coatings on oilseed rape.

Author information

1
Fera, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ, UK.
2
Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
3
Animal and Plant Health Agency, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ, UK.

Abstract

Chronic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides has been linked to reduced survival of pollinating insects at both the individual and colony level, but so far only experimentally. Analyses of large-scale datasets to investigate the real-world links between the use of neonicotinoids and pollinator mortality are lacking. Moreover, the impacts of neonicotinoid seed coatings in reducing subsequent applications of foliar insecticide sprays and increasing crop yield are not known, despite the supposed benefits of this practice driving widespread use. Here, we combine large-scale pesticide usage and yield observations from oilseed rape with those detailing honey bee colony losses over an 11 year period, and reveal a correlation between honey bee colony losses and national-scale imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) usage patterns across England and Wales. We also provide the first evidence that farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings reduce the number of subsequent applications of foliar insecticide sprays and may derive an economic return. Our results inform the societal discussion on the pollinator costs and farming benefits of prophylactic neonicotinoid usage on a mass flowering crop.

PMID:
26270806
PMCID:
PMC4535276
DOI:
10.1038/srep12574
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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