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October 10th, 2019

For European rapeseed farmers, honey bees buzzing around fields may outweigh the benefits of using pesticides to fight insect damage, French researchers said.

A four-year survey in France found higher yields and profits for rapeseed fields where there’s an abundance of pollinating insects, according to a study by agricultural researcher INRA and the country’s National Centre for Scientific Research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.

That benefit is greatly reduced by using pesticides that don’t lift productivity enough to compensate for their cost, INRA said. So while more bees and spraying pesticides both boost yields, profits can be greater when only relying on pollination by bees, the researchers said. The findings come as French oilseed growers have bemoaned a European Union ban on neonicotinoids — chemicals blamed for killing bees — for causing crop losses. Read more …