The smart farming pioneers at Veracruz Almonds have joined Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator (OP) program to boost biodiversity across their farms and increase the number of bees, pollinators and beneficial insects.

With 1,300 hectares of orchard in Fundão and Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal, Veracruz Almonds began sowing OP field margins in October 2021. Since then, researchers from the University of Coimbra have been identifying and counting groups of pollinators to assess the overall biodiversity of Veracruz orchards and almond production.

It has been estimated that the value of pollinators to the global ecosystem is more than €150 billion a year. However, in recent years, pollinators have been threatened by a combination of causes, including habitat loss and fragmentation, agricultural intensification, non-sustainable use of crop protection products, environmental pollution, pathogens and climate change.

The OP was developed by Syngenta 15 years ago and aims to address the decline of pollinators, by promoting more sustainable practices that diversify agricultural landscapes, and create essential habitats for biodiversity-enhancing species. So far this program has enhanced biodiversity on more than 5 million hectares of farmland across the globe. In Portugal and Spain,  more than 500 species have been identified on the Operation Pollinator field margins, many of them at risk of extinction and included on the red list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

David Carvalho, founder and CEO of Veracruz Almonds, said: “Partnerships like this are vital for the future of agriculture, enabling us to share good farming practices that secure environmental balance and boost local ecosystems. 

“At Veracruz Almonds, we use scientific knowledge to help us improve the yield, quality and sustainability of our almonds. By joining the OP program, we can better understand how different species of plants on our orchard margins can attract vital pollinators. 

“Despite using auto fertile almond varieties, we firmly believe that attracting pollinators can be incredibly beneficial for almond production. We look forward to gaining more insight into this vital data and sharing our findings with the industry in the future.”

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Editor: Kiran Grewal