Flower strips

In an effort to promote biodiversity, the Südzucker Group has been discussing the creation of flower strips with growers since 2014.
Objectives
  1. To provide food, habitat and shelter for insects, pollinators and wildlife.
  2. To better understand how to manage biodiversity and improve its impact with regard to arable crops.
  3. For the plants and root mass to contribute to loam formation and soil richness.
  4. Average size: approximately 1,000.

IFAB collaboration

Since 2018, our collaboration with the Institut für Agrarökologie & Biodiversität in Germany (Institute for Agroecology and Biodiversity, IFAB) has led to pioneering research on the impact of flower strips:

  1. A sugar beet field with integrated flower strips to enhance biodiversity.
  2. Developing management strategies (‘steering’) for flower strips.
    • Measuring beneficial insects, pests and pollinators.
    • The impact of the type of flower mix.
    • The impact of the sowing period.
    • How does this impact the crop quality?
  3. Bird monitoring.
Study configuration
  1. Monitoring the impact of flower strips installed near sugar beet fields during different years:
    • Large fields > 20 hectares
    • Different biotopes
  2. Comparison zones:
    • Zones with limited grassland structure and buffer strips
Source: Suedzucker AG | (Click to enlarge)

In conclusion

  1. Flower strips, as a habitat, are beneficial not only for insects (flower strips contain 400-500% more biomass** than cultivated fields), but also for birds and other animals.
  2. Pollinators and beneficial insects that visit the flowers are particularly attracted by the pollen and nectar.
  3. If the strips remain throughout the winter, they provide valuable winter nourishment for birds, as well as cover for game and overwintering opportunities for insects.
  4. Flower strips must be maintained to control weeds and grasses at an early stage.
**Biomass: insects like pollinators, beneficial insects and other beneficial organisms.
(Click to enlarge)

Our 2022 objectives

There are 2,200 flower strips distributed throughout Germany and France, and the process is underway in Belgium and Poland.
Number of Südzucker flower strips
Source: Suedzucker AG | (Click to enlarge)

Next steps

  1. Continue dialoguing with growers about how to increase the number of flower strips.
  2. Continue collaborating with the IFAB throughout the 2021-2023 period.
  3. Promote a biodiversity standard that:
    • is developed by an external institute (IFAB);
    • includes a catalogue of measures;
    • focuses on the scientific impact of these biodiversity measures;
    • is used to train growers. In 2022: the goal is to start working with ten growers in Germany.
  4. Conduct research to better understand how to reduce inputs and pesticides (initial results expected in the first quarter of 2023).
Objective: We want to encourage and incentivise farmers, in a transparent way, to have a positive impact on natural habitats and ecosystems.