Planting flowers beside food crops on farms in India attracts bees, boosts pollination and improves crop yield and quality, researchers have found. A group of researchers from the University of Reading and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation explored the marriage of companion flowers, buzzing bees, and enhanced crop yields, unveiling a tapestry of sustainable agricultural practices.
FOCUS ON MORINGA
In the heart of this botanical ballet lies the revered Moringa crop, hailed as a nutrient-rich “super food.” Guided by a commitment to sustainable agriculture, the researchers delve into the delicate dance between Moringa and its vital pollinators—the industrious bees.
HARMONIZING NATURE AND AGRICULTURE
With an eco-conscious crescendo, the research team partners with smallholder farmers in the verdant Kannivadi region of Tamil Nadu. Here, they sow the seeds of change, introducing companion marigold flowers and red gram crops alongside Moringa trees. The result? A harmonious surge of 50% more flower visitors and a 33% increase in diversity, orchestrating a botanical symphony in contrast to orchards devoid of co-flowering companions.
The magic unfolds as the red gram and marigold flowers weave an alchemical transformation in crop quality. Orchards adorned with these companions not only boast larger moringa pods but also yield a 30% increase in harvestable fruits.
Dr. Deepa Senapathi of the University of Reading envisions, “Greater yields and higher quality fruit will translate to a healthier and better food supply for smallholder communities.”
SUSTAINABLE FARMING VISION
This revelation is not just a floral interlude but part of the grand TROPICAL project led by the University of Reading, driven by UKRI funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund. In a nation rich with crops of economic and nutritional significance, the study extends a hand to mitigate the impact of intensive farming and habitat loss on biodiversity and native pollinators.
As India’s landscapes cradle treasures like mango and moringa, this study paints a canvas of agricultural harmony. It champions a vision where sustainable practices, intertwined with the delicate dance of pollinators and crops, offer resilience and hope to smallholder farmers in the tropics.
This study not only celebrates the intricate beauty of nature-infused farming but also envisions a future where sustainable practices harmonize agriculture, ecology, and livelihoods in the vibrant landscapes of India.