Agridirect.ie discusses why we need bee gardens, and outlines some quick and easy steps that you can take to support the world’s most effective pollinators.
The threat of extinction
The global bee population has been declining steadily for decades now. Here in Ireland, we have seen a marked decrease in bee numbers since the 1980s. According to experts, the distribution of 42 bee species has declined by more than 50% over the last 40 years. There are numerous possible causes of this dramatic decline, but most scientists blame a combination of habitat destruction, climate change, excessive pesticide use, changes in land use, and loss of biodiversity.
With the level of chemical fertilizer used in the EU at the forefront of politicians’ minds this week, white clover may become a major factor on Irish farms in the very near future. In this week’s second blog entry, Adrian Graham from Dundalk IT tells Agridirect.ie about the benefits of growing white clover.
Reducing chemical nitrogen
Recent news confirmed that as part of the new proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the limit for chemical nitrogen spread in the EU will be reduced by 10% and the closed period for slurry spreading will be lengthened by bringing the existing closing date (15th of October) back to some point in September. This will put pressure on farmers to keep grass growing, but clover could be the answer. Clover has the ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air using rhizobia bacteria that the plant contains within its roots. This nitrogen is then held in the soil and is made available for the grass plants to utilize. This process leads to a much quicker regrowth of grass.
Agridirect.ie outlines the primary benefits of promoting white clover on our land.
A member of the bean family, white clover (trifolium repens) is native to Europe and Central Asia. Traditionally, it has thrived in the temperate oceanic climate of Britain and Ireland, providing excellent grazing for the ruminants of these islands. After World War II, however, market forces began to target the three-leaved plant. As petrochemical herbicides developed during the war era hit the shelves, the chemical industry started to depict white clover as an unsightly weed that its products could deal with. Predictably, the global clover population took a serious nosedive.