On June 28th, INRAE & Grab gathered some Framework Cluster farmers with their advisors (GRCeta) to teach them about bat observation with an endoscopic camera.
As part of the project's Work Package 3, farmers are invited to observe batboxes during summer, before the apple harvest. Boxes were installed in orchards in 2022, to help arborists reduce the number of insecticides.
Farmers were each given an individual dossier with their specific maps and sheets for easy monitoring and reporting. Occupancy monitoring is carried out in the autumn to assess the level of presence of pipistrelles (mainly) in the environment and the interest of these shelters.
Having bats actively hunting in orchards provides several functional benefits to the ecosystem. Bats are useful animals for farmers, because they consume a lot of insect crop pests. As natural pest controllers they feed on insects like moths, beetles, and other agricultural pests that can damage crops.
By preying on these pests, bats help to reduce the need for chemical pesticides, promoting environmentally friendly farming practices. Additionally, their presence enhances pollination as bats are known to visit flowers and assist in the reproduction of fruit trees.
Their nocturnal foraging behavior also complements the diurnal activities of other pollinators, ensuring continuous pollination throughout the day and optimizing fruit yield.
Overall, bats play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced and healthy orchard ecosystem and INRAE & Grab believe that if farmers see bats chasing through in their orchards for themselves, they will think about reducing pesticide pressure.