bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Friday, December 09, 2005

New Zealand days in clover numbered?

New Zealand's pastoral landscape is endangered because of varroa says Kiwi beekeeper, Bill Savage. Varroa management will ensure the future of horticulture, but the absence of feral colonies will, he says, lead to increasingly poor clover pollination. New Zealand pasture relies on the nitrogen fixed by the clover rather than artificial fertiliser.

Overseas, where varroa has been for many years, it has been found that there is a 10-year gap after the mite arrives before the clover seed bank in the ground is used up, says Savage.

“In this sort of country, 90 per cent of clover dries out because we are summer dry, so the seed in the ground now will germinate during the next 10 years. That is the seed bank we have built up over the last 100 years. Then there's nothing left.”

Farmers will have to look at flying clover seed over pasture every year or nitrogen fertiliser to replace the nitrogen that clover is not fixing.

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