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Welcome to the web home for Field, Lab, Earth, the podcast from the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. The podcast all about past and present advances in agronomic, crop, soil, and environmental sciences, our show features timely interviews with our authors about research in these fields.

Field, Lab, Earth releases on the third Friday of each month in addition to the occasional bonus episode. If you enjoy our show, please be sure to tell your friends and rate and review. If you have a topic, author, or paper you would like featured or have other feedback, please contact us on Twitter @fieldlabearth or use the email icon below. You can join our newsletter to receive notifications about new episodes and related resources here.

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Jul 19, 2018

“Benefits of Insect Pollination to Confection Sunflowers Differ Across Plant Genotypes” with Dr. Rachel Mallinger.

Sunflowers are a hallmark of an American summer. They’re grown for beauty, but they are also important industrial crops in America, grown for sunflower oil, for fresh eating (of the seeds), and for bird seed. And although we’ve slowly bred them to be more independent of pollinators, sunflowers still partner with bees. And not just honey bees. More often, they partner with native bees.

Did you know honey bees aren’t even native to the U.S.? And while just as charismatic in their own way, native bees might not fit the usual description of a bee that we imagine. Most U.S. bees don’t have a colony, don’t have a queen, and don’t have a hive that sits in a tree. And yet these mostly underground, solitary dwellers are the ones that are so important for sunflowers (and many flowers).

Dr. Mallinger’s research looks at the fascinating relationship between these species – the confection sunflower and native bees. She wants to be able to measure this relationship. How do sunflowers benefit from pollination by bees?

Tune in to learn more about Dr. Mallinger’s research and to find answers to these questions:

  • What are the differences between a honey bee and a native bee?
  • Why should we care about native bees?
  • What is Dr. Mallinger’s favorite type of bee?
  • How does pollination increase the yield of sunflowers?

If you would like more information about this topic, today’s paper is available here: 

It will be freely available from 20 July to 3 August, 2018.

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If you would like to reach out to Rachel, you can find her here:


CEU Quiz: 

For bees:

Xerces Society:

Pollinator Partnership:

The Great Sunflower Project:

Rachel’s lab:

Bee Identification:

Bee Identification Book:,

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