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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313528

Research Project: Enhancing Cropping System Sustainability Through New Crops and Management Strategies

Location: Soil Management Research

Title: Using pennycress, camelina, and canola cash crops to provision pollinators

Author
item Eberle, Carrie
item Thom, Matthew
item Nemec, Kristine
item Forcella, Frank
item Lundgren, Jonathan
item Gesch, Russell - Russ
item Riedell, Walter
item Schneider, Sharon
item Wagner, Angela
item Peterson, Dean
item Eklund, James - Jim

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2015
Publication Date: 7/10/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61664
Citation: Eberle, C.A., Thom, M.D., Nemec, K.T., Forcella, F., Lundgren, J.G., Gesch, R.W., Riedell, W.E., Papiernik, S.K., Wagner, A.K., Peterson, D.H., Eklund, J.J. 2015. Using pennycress, camelina, and canola cash crops to provision pollinators. Industrial Crops and Products. 75:20-25.

Interpretive Summary: As pollinator decline continues, the need to provide high value food for insects continues to rise. Finding crops to diversify the landscape and provide food is one way to improve pollinator health. Three winter industrial oilseed crops (pennycress, winter camelina, and winter canola) were grown in Morris, Minnesota, and Brookings, South Dakota, during the winters of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Each of the three crops has pollinator-friendly flowers, function as winter cover crops, and provides value as a bio-fuel seed crops. Pennycress, camelina, and canola flowers had high insect visitation and produced 13, 100, and 82 kg of sugar ha-1 during their flowering periods, providing an important food resource to pollinators during early spring when there is little else blooming. Green cover in early spring was used to indicate value as a cover crop and ranged from 0-60%. Maximum seed yields were 1.1, 1.4, and 1.2 Mg ha-1 for pennycress, camelina, and canola, which are economically viable yields. Of the three crops, winter camelina provided the highest combined pollinator resources, green cover, and seed yields. These results will benefit Midwestern beekeepers, environmental groups concerned with pollinators, growers looking for alternative cover crops, and the bio-fuel industry.

Technical Abstract: As pollinator decline continues, the need to provide high value forage for insects continues to rise. Finding agricultural crops to diversify the landscape and provide forage is one way to improve pollinator health. Three winter industrial oilseed crops (pennycress, winter camelina, and winter canola) were grown in Morris, Minnesota, and Brookings, South Dakota, during the winters of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Each of the three crops has pollinator-friendly flowers and value as winter cover crops and cash seed crops. We evaluated the crops for pollinator use, nectar production, green cover, and yield. Pennycress, camelina, and canola flowers had high insect activity with maximum visitation rates of 67±11.5, 22±3.1, and 61±6.8 insects min-1. Cumulative nectar produced by pennycress, camelina, and canola in Morris was 13, 100, and 82 kg of sugar ha-1 during the 2014 anthesis period, providing an important food resource to pollinators during early spring when there is little else on the agricultural landscape that is blooming. Green cover in early spring ranged from 0-60% amongst the three crops, with camelina providing >25% green cover across all four years. Maximum seed yields were 1.1±0.04, 1.4±0.05, and 1.2±0.19 Mg ha-1 for pennycress, camelina, and canola, which are economically viable yields. We concluded that of the three crops, winter camelina provided the highest combined agroecosystem value through pollinator resources, green cover, and seed yields.