Agricultural activity contributes to a diverse landscape on our planet. It is the basis of many ecosystems with a rich biodiversity. Its impact on the environment is of enormous importance in an area of progressive degradation in nature.
This is why it is so important today to encourage farmers to participate in various environmental projects and agricultural / environmental programs that indicate the environment-friendly practices and actions for protection, maintenance of species, habitats and landscapes.
ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Here are some examples of projects to protect biodiversity of the local flora and fauna, initiated in various countries of the European Union:
- managing the crops in such a way that the local fauna development and maintaining is not affected
- cooperation with bee keepers to protect the bees
- preventing of water erosion of soil
- maintaining and development of permanent grasslands (meadow championship in Germany)
- regeneration of old orchards on grasslands and creating new ones in order to keep the valuable habitats for rare plants and animals (Slovenia and Croatia)
- breeding beef cattle for recovery of grasslands (Finland)
- temporary refraining from plowing to protect birds
- creating nest protection periods on the fields and installing water drinkers, reducing use of plant protection chemicals to protect some species of birds (Sweden)
- protection of the Iberian Lynx habitats (Portugal).
Targeting agricultural actions to specific needs of the environment should be consistent with the idea of growth competitiveness of farms. It is important to ensure comprehensive education of the agricultural communities and wider cooperation with environmental organizations in such a way that the implementation of environmental programs would bring mutual benefits.
NATURE AROUND US
Our farm operates on extremely rich area, in terms of biodiversity. This is the area of the Damnica municipality, which is adjacent to the Slowinski National Park on the North, and to the Slupia Valley Landscape Park on the South. It is also an area that is listed on the National Concept of Environment Network and the European program of Nature 2000, because of the special natural values of the Łupawa River Valley. The municipality is known for its valuable forest resources, which constitute up to 29% of its whole area, enriched by numerous peat bogs, swamps and small ponds. Here you can meet a lot of different species of forest animals, protected birds and admire as many as 42 natural monuments
It is an extremely attractive but challenging neighborhood. Functioning in this area imposes a lot of obligations on our farm, which result from environment protection -- but it also brings a lot of satisfaction when we have a significant impact on the environment and its qualities -- through our actions. The reason for pride is the appearance in recent years within our municipality many new species of forest animals and an increase in the number of those regularly present here, which clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of our preventive measures.
The neighborhood of the wildlife is sometimes hard, when quite a number of crops get destroyed on our fields. We are trying to introduce preventive measures like fences, animal repellents, but most of all: we feed them in the forest, to keep them within their natural habitats or to restrict migrations in search for food.
We are also considerably satisfied about our cooperation with a local bee keeper to protect the bees. It involves adjusting the time of chemical treatments to the rhythm of life of these beneficial insects. In this way we take care of their existence, receiving in return the best quality honey which we often give to tour visitors.
Every year on the fields of Farm Frites Poland Dwa (FFPD) we grow more than 700 ha of rapeseed. One of the elements of the sustainable agricultural project implemented by the management of FFPD is to protect the bees. Company managers decided to work together with a local beekeeper Jan Króliszyn who is a retired employee and an experiences bee keeper. Mr Króliszyn intended to gradually reduce the number off bee hives due to the condition of his hives. FFPD offered him an assistance by buying some new bee hives and by repairing existing ones, so he would not have to reduce the amount of the bee families that he takes care of.
This cooperation also includes placing the hives in optimal distances from the fields and, above all, strong cooperation in applying good agricultural practices that are friendly to the bees. When planning the chemical treatments, FFPD would apply the following guidelines:
- One of the criteria for selection of chemicals used on the FFPD fields would be the lowest toxicity level to bees
- The beekeeper is informed and consulted before performing any nearby treatments on the fields
- The treatments are performed only in case the level of pests exceeds a spefific threshold of harmfulness
- The instructions on the chemicals labels are strictly observed.
- Treatments are not performed if the wind is too strong.
- Applications are done in the evening, after the bees have finished thay daily flights.
We will test the honey that has been produced from flours growing on our fields. The scope of the tests will be agreed with a representative of the Regional Beekeeping Association in Gdańsk.
BEES - FARMERS ALLIES
Pollination by insects has a favorable effect not only on the quantity but also on the quality of the yield. Even the best agronomic treatments and chemical protection will not bring the expected results if the plants will be isolated from the access of pollinators. Therefore bees are not only appreciated to the plantations but even desirable.
In Poland there are over 450 species referred to as wild bees. However, the most important insect pollinator of grown crops is the honey bee and it is indeed the most desired species in the agricultural environment.
There is a large group of plants for which the presence of pollination is very benefifial, although to some extent they are self-pollinating. These include, among others: rapeseed, millet, mustard, poppy, yellow lupine or soy.
The other group of plants are those whose yield depends exclusively or almost exclusively on insects. These include: sunflower, alfalfa, fruit trees, berries (strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries) and others.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEES FOR RAPESEED
It is estimated that honeybee which is the only species whose number can be adjusted on a plantation has a 20% share in the pollination of the rapeseed. The number of bees in a colony ranges from 15-20 thousand in the spring to 60 thousand i the mid summer. During sunny weather and a temperature about 20°C there should be 4 - 6 bees working on 1 m² of the crop. With such assumptions, to ensure proper pollination, on one hectare of rapeseed plantation, there should be 2 - 5 bee colonies.
- Pollination of rapeseed plantations by insect will cause:
- Shortening of the blossoming
- Increasing of the ration of effective seeds
- Earlier formation and ripening of seedpods.
- Increasing number of seeds per pod.
It is estimated that the contribution of bees in rapeseed pollination, depending on weather conditions in the period of blossoming, would increase the yield by 10 to 30%. The greatest increase in the yield is related to more formed seeds in seedpods by 20-25% on average. In addition, pollination of flowers by bees improves the quality of seeds.
In integrated crop protection of rapeseed it is very important to plan and carry out the treatments so as to minimize the risk to pollinators. Protecting bees during treatments is also required by the law.
EXTINCTION OF BEE COLONIES
Another important reason that FFPD got involved in the project is the fact that the number of bees began to rapidly decline. In the years 2006 to 2--7 in North America 1/3 of the bee colonies became extinct, and a year later this crisis affected Europe. In 2010, British scientists calculated that the bees population in the hives has decreased by 15% within 2 years.
In Poland the average losses are also about 15% per year. We want to help the bees because the relationship between them and human life seems obvious. Many years ago Albert Einstein said that if bees became extinct, people would last only for four more years.
Our goal is to gradually increase the scope of the project. According to our findings a number of bee colonies could find favorable conditions for their beneficial activities on our fields. By helping the bees, we help ourselves.
We will buy part of the honey from the beekeeper and we will give the jars full of golden liquid to our workers and numerous guests visiting our farm and the factory of Farm Frites Poland. We are convinced that the taste, aroma and nutritional values of the honey made from the flowers growing on the fields of FFPD will be a great showcase of goodl agricultural practices and attention to biodiversity on the fields.