Varga-Szilay, Z. & Pozsgai, G. (2023) Plant growers’ environmental consciousness may not be enough to mitigate pollinator declines: a questionnaire-based case study in Hungary.Pest Management Science, 79(4), 1284-1294. DOI:10.1002/ps.7277 (IF2021 4,463; Q1 Entomology)
Pesticides are one of the most important anthropogenic-related stressors. In times of global pollinator decline, the role of integrated farming and urban gardens in supporting wild pollinators is becoming increasingly important. We circulated an online questionnaire to survey plant protection practices among Hungarian farmers and garden owners with a particular emphasis on pollinator protection.
We found that plant growers rely heavily on pesticide use, and pesticides are used widely in otherwise pollinator-friendly gardens. Whether pesticide use practices were driven by expert opinion and respondent gender were the best predictors of pesticide use. Although most respondents supported pollinators, pesticides are also used widely among home garden owners, which can pose a non-evident ecological trap for pollinator populations in the gardens.
Special attention should be paid to implementing measures to reduce pesticide use not only in farmland, but also in home gardens. Environmental education and financial support through agroecological schemes could efficiently promote the transition away from pesticide use. However, whereas farmers can be encouraged to reduce pesticide use mostly by expert advice, garden owners are likely to rely on more conventional information channels. The attitudes of Hungarian plant growers can provide an insight into pesticide use practices of Central and Eastern European countries, but similar surveys are needed across Europe for a complete understanding of broad-scale processes. This work lays the foundations for similar studies that can inform and facilitate the transformation to pesticide-free farming and gardening.