What are bats worth to our farmers? More than BigWind!

As Halloween approaches, we have scary news for Ohio farmers who want to lease acreage to BigWind. Bats are already under assault d/t the white nose fungus, but turbines are a close 2nd. Estimates range between 600,000-1 million bats are killed every year by wind turbines. What will industrial turbines do, in the long run, to your family legacy? How much money do you want to spend on insecticides? Do you think it is responsible for you to accelerate the use of pesticides? You should think twice before signing a new lease when you consider how detrimental industrial wind turbines are to the bat populations. A new study published by the National Science Foundation finds that bats contribute over a billion dollars in value to corn farmers in preventing crop damage.  Boston University previously reported the economic value of bats as $72 per crop acre in avoided pesticide costs. Union Neighbors United (Ohio) is continuing its challenge to the USFWS rules for threatened and endangered bats….

In the grassy cornfields of Southern Illinois bats are on the hunt for insects, and according to new research, farmers have more than a billion reasons to be grateful for it. 

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today confirms that bats play a significant role in combating corn crop pests, saving more than $1 billion a year in crop damages around the world. Bat Conservation International funded the two-year experiment in cornfields near Horseshoe Lake in Southern Illinois, conducted by graduate student Josiah J. Maine and his adviser at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Justin Boyles….

“The main pest in my system was the corn earworm, a moth whose larvae cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage to corn, cotton, tomatoes, and many other crops,” Maine said….

Keeping the bats out meant pests, such as the corn earworm, were largely free to reign havoc on the corn crops….To ensure only bats were excluded by the exclosures Maine moved the structures twice daily so birds could forage normally.

After analyzing the results, Maine said he found nearly 60 percent more earworm larvae inside the exclosures – protected from the hungry bats – than in the unprotected control areas. He also found more than 50 percent more corn kernel damage per ear in the corn inside the exclosures.

“By consuming crop pests, bats have tremendous ecological impacts in crop fields. Based on the difference in crop damage I observed, I estimated that bats provide a service to corn farmers worth about $1 billion globally” Maine said.

In addition to controlling pest populations, bats were also found to suppress pest-associated fungal growth found in corn— a money-saving agricultural service not reflected in Maine’s suggested estimate.

“This was sort of a serendipitous discovery of this research,” Maine said. “I found that [bats] seemed to be suppressing the population of crop pests and thereby suppressing the abundance of the toxic fungus and also the toxins produced by that fungus.”….

Source: Bats Worth More Than $1 Billion to Corn Industry | Agweb.com

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