Farming Smarter saw a rich biodiversity of pollinators including honeybees, native bees, moths, butterflies, flies and beetles in the research plots. The diversity of plant species seeded enriched local biodiversity and created a refuge for not only the pollinators, but also passerine birds, waterfowl, game birds, raptors, mammals and reptiles.
Seeding date significantly impacted species establishment, therefore we can't recommend seeding late in the season. Early seeding date had an average of 72% survival compared to 54% for the late seeding. Species establishment for early seeding improved to 84%, if we excluded poor establishing wildflower mix while establishment was 61% for late seeding. We recommend excluding wildflower mix as it had a very low percent establishment for both seeding dates.
When comparing the average plant density for the early seeded plots, there was no significant difference between annual, annual-perennial and perennial mixes.
Plant density for the wildflower mix was very low and caused significant increase in weed density and competition.
Average crop biomass highlights the difference between treatments as well, with the annual, annual-perennial and perennial mixes having higher crop biomass for the early seeding date. No statistical difference between treatments in the late seeding date.
Most species in each mix established easily, outside of wildflowers, and successfully attracted a diversity of pollinator species including Lepidoptera (butterflies), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) and Coleoptera (beetles).
As indicated by the data collected from yellow sticky cards, butterflies and flies increased in abundance across the sampling period, while bees, wasps and beetles declined in abundance. The movement of hives in and out of the area may account for the abundance of honeybees and may have skewed the numbers.
As was expected, the majority of plants flowered between May and September. The plants flowering early and late in the season provide a source of food when it is scarce. Early flowering species include Balansa and Berseem clover, while late season flowering plants include Alfalfa, perennial sunflower, Persian clover, Phacelia, Red clover and Sainfoin.