‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.’
This is Wageningen University & Research's mission. We are a research institution that focuses on the domain ‘healthy food and living conditions’. We do not just develop top-quality expertise; we also help translate our knowledge into practice worldwide. Support our projects and contribute to the quality of life.
Some Dutch producers are trying to use locally produced lupin as the basis for the production of meat-replacements. By using lupin instead of imported soy, the ecological footprint of meat-replacements can be greatly reduced! Unfortunately, the yield in the Netherlands is rather unpredictable and variable in quality, where the lack of the right pollinators for lupin can play an important role.
Flowers of plants have been evolving for millions of years to design the shape, colour and size of the flowers in such a way that they attract the right pollinators for cross-pollination of the plants. An ingenious system makes sure that lupin is pollinated properly: the weight of a pollinator pushes the petals of the flowers downwards, revealing the stamen and pushing the pollen on the belly of the pollinator and hereby making sure that the pollen gets to the next flower (see also the video). Because of this, lupin is depending on the right pollinator, mostly bumblebees, which are heavy enough to push down the petals. However, honeybees are placed in the crop fields to ensure pollination. In contrast to bumblebees, honeybees are too light to fully push down the petals. Because of this the yield is unpredictable and the quality is variable, hampering the food production.
My name is Thijs Fijen and I would like to study how the cultivation of lupin, the Dutch ‘soy’ can be made more profitable and sustainable by specifically studying the role of bumblebees. A major motive in my work is that I really like to look for opportunities to combine sustainable food production and conservation of biodiversity. I am paying a lot of attention in this in my doctoral research, and recently I was awarded the ‘Zilveren Parnassia’, a prestigious award for talented young researches in nature conservation. This project is particularly exciting for me: important pollinators of lupin are bumblebees, amongst the extinct large garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus), which might profit from an increased lupin surface. When we can grow more, and better quality lupin, both farmers and bumblebees can benefit. A real win-win situation!
Me in action in Italy! Here we monitor where the crop pollinators are before crop flowering, so that we can better protect and manage these areas.
As a first step, I want to show that the pollination by bumblebees indeed increases the yield and quality of lupin. I want to do this for as many lupin varieties as possible, so that this research may readily be used in the selection of better varieties. At the same time we then show the importance of promoting and conserving bumblebees around arable fields!
By supporting this project, you will help establishing sustainable lupin production and conservation of bumblebees, so join me!
Last week a sponsor let me know that he wants to double each and every donation, including the ones already donated. This is incredible! We now have more than 60% of the budget!
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