August 2 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, May 29, 2014
A display by Harpenden researchers using petal power to combat insect pests has come up roses after winning an award at the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Rothamsted Research was one of five exhibitors to receive a silver flora award in the Great Pavilion discovery section.
The theme of the scientists’ exhibit was the role of flowers in reducing insect pests on crops and in gardens, to help decrease people’s reliance on pesticides and to promote biodiversity.
It included examples of oilseed rape with different petal colours, flowering field margins displayed in large planters, as well as live insects. Altering petal colour can help decrease insect pest numbers in crops, and by allowing flowering plants to grow in and around the edge of crop fields provides food and habitats for their natural enemies.
Using such techniques helps to reduce the amount of synthetic chemical insecticides applied to crops, which will reduce pollution and benefit other insects inadvertently killed by sprays.
Rothamsted’s new director Prof Achim Dobermann said the display showed how “ecological engineering” could help find new solutions for sustainable agriculture.
He added: “We need agricultural systems with a higher degree of biodiversity, thus also resulting in greater resilience to many pests.”
The Chelsea Flower Show in London ended last Saturday.