Flower declines mirrors bee drop

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IN YEARS gone by, it was par for the course for farmers to leave swathes of land fallow to improve productivity. But as the effectiveness of fertilizer rose – and more recently, EU set-aside payments ended – the practice dramatically reduced.

Now a researcher from the University of Leeds says bringing back the practice could be key to halting the decline in the numbers of bees and other pollinating insects – by encouraging the growth of wild flowers.

Professor Bill Kunin, from the university’s faculty of Biological Sciences, worked with the University of Bristol on the first ever Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators.