Georg Andersson. Image: Lund Univ.
Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Georg Andersson from Lund Univ. His research found that organic strawberries are more highly pollinated than non-organic strawberries.
Q: What made you interested in studying how pollination differed in organic produce and non-organic produce?
A: A lot of studies have shown that the diversity and abundance of pollinators were generally higher in organic farms. Therefore I became interested in the question if also the function pollination was higher in organic farms. So I set up a study where I, in this first step, tried to evaluate if there were any differences in the pollination potential between organic and conventional farms. I chose strawberries because it is a good model crop when to study pollination.
Q: What are the future implications of your research and findings?
A: Our study suggests that organic farming could enhance the potential of pollination in agricultural landscapes. We cannot say anything about real crop yield in fields as we used pots of strawberries. But this is a first step for understanding how pollination by wild pollinators could be enhanced for present and future crops, which is one step for developing a sustainable agriculture.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you found in your research?
A: I think it was that, despite the fact that these farming systems does not differ very much, concerning for example habitats surrounding the fields, the effect was evident and large. It would be interesting to compare systems that are very different, such a — for examples — studying the contrasts between organic and conventional systems in countries outside Europe.
Q: What is the take home message of your research and results?
A: That organic farming systems can enhance the pollination potential in agricultural landscapes.
Q: What new technologies did you use in your lab during your research?
A: We used well established techniques, the novelty was the context we used this techniques in. In this way we managed to obtain interesting results using quite simple techniques.
Q: What is next for you and your research?
A: To go further and understand more of the mechanisms behind the results. We are also going to compare pollination in the crop fields between farming systems.
Another interesting question is whether other qualities in the fruits change with pollination success. For example do badly pollinated strawberries have lower or higher sugar concentration? Or do they differ in content of other substances affecting taste and how healthy they are?