SLU news

Flower strips can give ecosystem services to strawberry cultivations

Published: 02 November 2020
Flowers under a blue sky. Photo.

Neus Rodriguez-Gasol and Elodie Chapurlat will measure what ecosystem services flower strips can provide to strawberry fields. They have recently started their two-year post doc positions at SLU. We took the chance to ask them some questions about their hopes for this project and their backgrounds!

Their research project is about optimization and evaluation of flower strips for the promotion of ecosystem services in agricultural systems. The two projects, test in strawberry fields and SamZones (a project to maximize functions that both protect the environment and promote ecosystem services), are tightly linked. Neus and Elodie will work together in all the aspects of the project in order to complement each other with their respective strengths.

– In a first step, we use field trials with single-species plots to identify the best flowering plants to support natural enemies, pollinators and a healthy soil community without enhancing pathogens, pests or diseases, says Neus.

– Based on that, we will design a few flower mixtures and test them around strawberry fields, both conventional and organic. In parallel, we aim to also evaluate existing multifunctional buffer zones, in the project SamZones, that have been sown for several years in some farms involved in a project called “Odling i balans” (Cultivation in balance), says Elodie.

In both cases, they will measure the ecosystem services, specifically pollination of crops and pest control, provided by the flower strips.

Flowers in cropping systems is promising for crop protection

Adding flowers to the cropping system that support natural enemies and pollinators is a promising option to achieve crop protection and increase pollination in Swedish horticulture.

– However, the wide-spread adoption of flower strips has been hampered by limited economic benefit and the risk of propagating pests and diseases. Our goal is to change that situation in order to maximize ecosystem service delivery and increase economic benefit in agricultural systems while reducing the use of pesticides, says Elodie.

– Ultimately, we hope to favor the ecological intensification of agriculture, says Neus.

Flowers under a blue sky. Photo.
The aim of the project is to use flower strips to maximize ecosystem service delivery and increase economic benefit in agricultural systems while reducing the use of pesticides. Photo: Elodie Chapurlat

From fruit orchards to protecting farmland pollinators

Before starting in this project, Neus did her PhD in the promotion of ecosystem services, pollination and biological control, in Mediterranean fruit orchards at the University of Lleida in Spain. Afterwards she collaborated during 6 months in the project “Protecting Farmland Pollinators” from the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Ireland.

Orchids and meta-analysis

Elodie did her Phd in evolutionary ecology of plant-pollinator interactions at Uppsala University. During that project, she studied natural selection on floral traits, including floral scent, in two orchids in Sweden and Norway. Afterwards, in 2019, she worked in a meta-analysis project aiming to evaluate restoration practices at the Department of Ecology at SLU in Uppsla.

What are Neus and Elodie up to when they are not doing research?

– I love reading, painting and nature-related activities like hiking, kayaking, picking mushrooms, and cross-country skiing, says Neus.

– I like diversity! Biking, gardening, reading, sewing, playing with my children and more, says Elodie.


Elodie Chapurlat

A woman sitting by a field. Photo.

Neus Rodriguez-Gasol

A woman by a windy sea. Photo.

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