Each year the European Bee Awards from the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO) recognize farmers, landowners, research institutes, academia and private and public organizations that develop outstanding and innovative projects to protect bees and other pollinators in the farmed environment.
We were therefore delighted to hear that the Members of the Jury selected the DroplegUL device, developed as part of the FIT BEE project for bee-friendly crop protection, as winner of the “Innovative technological solutions” category for 2017.
Around 80 people attended the celebration and presentation of the 2017 European Bee Awards, held at the European Parliament in Brussels on 5th December. The ceremony was opened by MEP Franc Bogovi? who was a member of the jury panel, before the “Innovative technological solutions” award was presented by Mariya Gabriel who, though now European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, has in the past few years organized the EU Bee Week in the European Parliament.
Attending the award ceremony, to represent the Dropleg project with Robert Heinkel from Lechler GmbH and Klaus Wallner from Hohenheim University, was Peter Trodtfeld, Bee Health Expert at the Bayer Bee Care Center. “There is a lot of discussion about whether pesticides can be considered safe to use and how to minimize risk to bee health while protecting crops from pest damage” he said, continuing, “It is good to see this project recognized as it brings real technical possibilities to combine both.”
The award-winning DroplegUL technology, developed as part of the FITBEE project, sprays crops underneath the flowering canopy.
The technology uses hook extensions with so-called ‘droplegs’ which are mounted onto a several-meter-long spray boom. The nozzles hang from the spray machine like the teeth of a large comb and are pulled through the oilseed rape field.
This enables an insecticide or fungicide spray application to be applied below the crop flowering zone, thereby preventing direct spray onto nectar and pollen. As Uwe Rabe, Global Asset Manager for thiacloprid, explains “When Dropleg is used to apply pesticides during the flowering period in oilseed rape, farmers are not only able to control pests effectively, so keeping their yields high but can also further minimize the residues in pollen and nectar which, when taken back by foraging bees to the colony, is used to make honey.”
The Dropleg technology modification was part of the FIT BEE project, which ran from 2011 to 2015. It is a broad collaboration of researchers and industry parties, supported by the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Germany to understand the complex interactions between individual bees, bee colonies, bee diseases and environmental parameters.
The industrial partners included Lechler GmbH, who put the method forward for the award, Bayer, Syngenta, Deutsche Saatveredelung AG and Plant Protection Services Hessen while Südwestdeutsche Saatzucht provided trial areas.
DroplegUL has been approved by the Julius Kühn Institute and, thus, complies with the guidelines of the Federal Institute for crop protection equipment. It is classified as drift-reducing, confirming that the Dropleg technology can reduce the amount of pesticide reaching areas not used to grow crops on.