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As-Needed Pesticide Use Brings Wild Bees, Increases Watermelon Yield Without Reducing Corn Profits

Purdue University researchers found as-needed pesticide use increased pollination from wild bees and increased watermelon yield. Image courtesy of Purdue University’s Tom Campbell.

Many farmers rent beehives to pollinate crops, but they could tap into the free labor of wild bees by adopting an as-needed approach to pesticides, a new proof-of-concept study shows.

A team of researchers from Purdue University’s College of Agriculture studied fields at five different locations in Indiana and the Midwest over a period of four years to compare conventional pest management with an integrated pest management, or IPM, approach. Within the first year, wild bees were a significant presence in the fields with low levels of pesticide.

The team also observed an increase in the number of beneficial insects (wasps, ladybugs, and other natural predators of watermelon pests) in the IPM fields. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded this work. For more information, read the Purdue University Agricultural News article.

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