Native bees are essential pollinators of wild and crop plants providing high ecological and economical benefits. However, half of the 600 native bee species of Switzerland are endangered. Ongoing soil sealing and intensification of agricultural land use result in fewer suitable nesting sites and foraging habitats, which is expected to force female bees to cover longer distances between nest and flower-rich patches. In this study, maximum foraging distances of selected solitary bee species were investigated and the effect of increasing foraging distances on their reproduction was analyzed. Bee species, which restrict pollen foraging to a single plant genus, were established in an agricultural landscape lacking their specific host plants. Females were forced to collect pollen on potted host plants in different distances from their nests. Only few individuals of Hoplitis adunca and Hylaeus punctulatissimus covered long distances of more than 1000m to collect pollen. The majority of females already discontinued foraging at a distance of 100-300m, which indicates that long distances between nesting sites and flower resources impose high costs on reproduction. In fact, increased distances by 150m and more substantially reduced the number of progeny produced by females of Hoplitis adunca and Chelostoma rapunculi. Thus, a close neighbourhood of nesting and foraging habitats clearly contributes to a diverse native bee fauna and to an increase of bee population sizes.
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation by bacteria in the soil coexisting with legumes leads to reduced fertiliser requirement. It is not easy to measure this variable on farms, however. Now researchers from Agroscope have developed a method for estimating nitrogen input via symbiotic fixation at farm level.
With increasing global and regional temperatures, even in Switzerland the growing season has lengthened considerably. Using data from the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, Agroscope has traced the development of the growing season since the start of the previous century.
The phosphate mineral reserves required for fertiliser production could be exhausted on a global scale in just a few decades. This study presents a method for recycling a Swiss industrial by-product into a phosphate fertiliser.