MORALES Carolina Laura
Large-scale monoculture reduces honey yield: The case of soybean expansion in Argentina
DE GROOT, GRECIA STEFANÍA; AIZEN, MARCELO ADRIÁN; SÁEZ, AGUSTÍN; MORALES, CAROLINA LAURA
AGRICULTURE, ECOSYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENT
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Año: 2021 vol. 306
Large-scale changes introduced by industrial agriculture can affect other productive activities such as beekeeping, which heavily depends on floral resources and responsible management of agrochemicals. To assess the long-term effect of soybean expansion on honey production in Argentina, we evaluated the relationships between the area cultivated with soybean and honey yield and total production by managed honeybee (Apis mellifera) hives between 1961 and 2016. Results indicate that the expansion of the area cultivated with soybean since 1996, which involved the replacement of natural habitats with extensive cultivated fields, intensive use of transgenic seeds, agrochemicals and machinery, was associated with a reduction in honey yield of ∼60 %. Furthermore, since 1996 honey yield tended to be lower in years in which the area cultivated with soybean was larger. Causal modelling of this data confirmed a strong negative effect of increasing soybean cultivation on Argentinean honey production via decreasing yield during the period 1996?2016. Although the underlying mechanisms still need to be disentangled, this work provides support to the hypothesis that the beekeeping crisis in Argentina can relate to soybean expansion. More generally, it provides evidence that industrial agriculture has a negative impact on apiculture.