Size matters: significant negative relationship between mature plant mass and residual neonicotinoid levels in seed-treated oilseed rape and maize crops

Balfour, Nicholas J, Carreck, Norman L, Blanchard, Héloïse E and Ratnieks, Francis L W (2016) Size matters: significant negative relationship between mature plant mass and residual neonicotinoid levels in seed-treated oilseed rape and maize crops. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 215. pp. 85-88. ISSN 0167-8809

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Abstract

Neonicotinoid insecticides have been under scrutiny in recent years due to their potential to harm bees. The European Union recently imposed a two year moratorium (2014–2015) on their application as a seed-treatment for certain bee-attractive crops. In this study we investigated the effect of mature plant size on residual neonicotinoid concentration in two widely grown, bee-attractive crops: oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and maize (Zea mays). Plants were collected from four commercial farms in Sussex, United Kingdom, three growing oilseed rape and one maize. All were grown from seeds treated with the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam. For both crops there was a significant negative relationship between mature plant mass and residual neonicotinoid (thiamethoxam and its metabolite clothianidin) concentrations (p < 0.001). Concentrations in plant tissues roughly halved with a four-fold increase in plant weight. These results indicate that agronomic practices that result in larger mature plants might have the potential to reduce the exposure of bees to neonicotinoid contamination of pollen and nectar.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Research Centres and Groups: Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture > SF0517 Beneficial insects and insect culture > SF0522 Bee culture
Depositing User: Norman Carreck
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2018 16:15
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2018 16:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78650

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