Find more information for growers and producers on helping pollinators in agriculture.
In a recent ‘Power of Ten’ blog, we shared the top pollinators in agriculture and discussed the importance of pollinators in agriculture. All told, pollinators are responsible for over 30 percent of the world’s food and fiber crops, so it befits all growers and producers to take steps to help pollinators in agriculture in as many ways as possible. The returns are numerous as strong pollinators support the health of both crops and wild spaces. If you’re in production agriculture, explore what you can do to help pollinators below.
Helping Pollinators in Agriculture
The first step in helping the pollinators that contribute to the growing of your crop is to identify those pollinators that affect your production agriculture. For the majority of growers and producers, it’s honey bees that do the most pollinating. Other important pollinators include many different kinds of bees, additional insects, and even some animals like bats and birds. Once you know the pollinators in agriculture that benefit your crops, you can take further steps, such as:
- Supplying food. For most pollinators, food means flowers. When they visit your crop’s flowers for pollen and nectar, they’re gathering food. Planting native wildflowers for your pollinators to feed on in addition to your crops ensures you’ll attract them to your fields all season, and they’ll be nearby when your crop is ready for pollination. Some farmers leave strips of natural habitat while others purposely plant flowering hedgerows or stands of native wildflowers. Allowing crops to bolt—such as letting lettuce flower—is another option. The website Pollinators.org, a non-profit that supports pollinators and their habitats, offers Ecoregional Planting Guides that you can download using your zip code.
- Limiting environmental contaminants. One of the biggest dangers to pollinators is the use of herbicides and pesticides. For example, the EPA prohibits the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides while bees are present. They also offer guides on Best Management Practices (BMPs) when it comes to the use of chemicals and pollinators and/or wildlife. Following these BMPs helps pollinators to avoid pesticides.
- Minimizing tilling. According to the National Resources Conservation Service’s Pollinator page, many pollinators spend a portion of their life cycles underground, often nearby the plants they pollinate. Tilling is disastrous to these pollinating insects, so minimizing tilling is a smart move.
- Joining forces with your neighbor. Working together with neighboring farmers to minimize pesticide and herbicide use and protect wild habitat will have a greater impact on pollinator health than working in isolation.
- Utilizing available programs. Pollinators are so important that there are numerous local, state, and national programs that offer assistance with helping pollinators. For instance, the USDA recently awarded $6.8 million in grants for research and Extension projects to support healthy pollinator populations.
AgAmerica Lending is proud to be a partner in maintaining healthy pollinators in agriculture like the honey bee. If you’d like to discuss how we help ag producers with our array of custom loan packages, contact us today to explore your options with one of our knowledgeable team members.