HUTCHINSONS FieldWise(July2019) - Page 1

JULY 2019
Andrew Pitts and
Sarah Barnsley focus
on maximizing
pollinator resources
Helix: Maximising pollinator
resources at the whole farm scale
An understanding of just how significant insect declines could be is gaining traction within the media
and public eye. Pollinators, which include hoverflies, moths, butterflies, certain wasps and of course bees,
are included within this group. For this reason, Hutchinsons in collaboration with the University of East
Anglia is sponsoring PhD student Sarah Barnsley to look at how we can increase pollinator resources
across UK farms. Sarah briefly explains her research at the Helix farm.
The research aims to identify a
method for mapping pollinator
resources that are already onfarm. This way, we can see what is
already available so that we know
where to target improvements.
Furthermore, as we put effort into
increasing pollinator resources, we
can monitor these as we go along.
While traditionally vegetation
mapping has been done manually,
the project will be investigating
the applicability of using remotely
sensed aerial imagery to do the
same job, but much more quickly
and covering greater areas.
At a later stage, the methods
developed for detecting different
pollinator-suitable flower species
can be integrated into the Omnia
Precision farming system. From
there, potential exists to combine the
pollinator and wildlife resource layers
with Omnia’s field performance
maps. This could identify the most
sensible areas to convert to habitat
consisting for example, of those
areas of poor crop productivity and
where there are large gaps in the
resources needed to support a whole
pollinator community.
The initial rounds of aerial imagery have
already been obtained, then within a
few days on either side of the imagery
being captured, the “ground-truthing” of
the different flower species was carried
out within the margins. This involved
assessing what individual flowers or
groups of flowers were on the ground
at precise locations so that they could
be matched up to the images.
Once all of the data is gathered,
analysis will begin this autumn. This
will rely on the fact that everything
that we see around us reflects or
absorbs different wavelengths of
electromagnetic radiation.


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