Soil fertilization synergistically enhances the impact of pollination services in increasing seed yield of sunflower under dryland conditions
Adelabu, Dollop Bola
Van der Merwe, Sean
Franke, Angelinus Cornelius
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To exploit the potential of ecological intensification during sunflower cropping, it is crucial to understand the potential synergies between crop management and ecosystem services. We therefore examined the effect of pollination intensification on sunflower yield and productivity under various levels of soil fertilization over two seasons in the eastern Free State, South Africa. We manipulated soil fertility with fertilizer applications and pollination with exclusion bags. We found a synergetic effect between pollination and soil fertilization whereby increasing pollination intensity led to a far higher impact on sunflower yield when the soil had been fertilized. Specifically, the intensification of insect pollination increased seed yield by approximately 0.4 ton/ha on nutrient poor soil and by approximately 1.7 ton/ha on moderately fertilized soil. Our findings suggest that sunflower crops on adequate balanced soil fertility will receive abundant insect pollination and may gain more from both synergies than crops grown in areas with degraded soil fertility.