Numerous SARE funded research projects have been done regionally, which show that habitat strips support pollinator and beneficial insect populations on farms. Considerations such as ease of maintenance, non-invasive qualities, additional income from harvestable plant species, carbon sequestration opportunities and increased climate resiliency (e.g. improved pest management, microclimate control) influence the feasibility for farmers to establish pollinator and beneficial insect habitat. To apply this research, habitat planting templates will be developed in partnership with farmers, and demonstration models of each template will be established on collaborator farms. Demonstration models on host farms will provide the structure for workshops on establishing and maintaining habitat plantings, the basics of native bee and beneficial insect biology and identification, and citizen science opportunities, and cost share opportunities for habitat establishment. A monitoring component will be included to advance understanding of the benefits of habitat templates.
While we anticipate being able to deliver these workshops in person during the project period, the uncertainty of in-person programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major concern at the time of this proposal. Pierce Conservation District has already modified our workshop delivery to include virtual farm tours and workshops, as well as film sessions that can be embedded on our social media and web pages to reach the broadest audience possible.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Equip 60 farmers, at minimum, with understanding of native bee and beneficial insect biology and identification through three (3) demonstration workshops.
- Equip farmers with knowledge of how wildlife plantings contribute to the ecosystem function, carbon sequestration potential, and resiliency of their operations.
- Provide farmers with habitat planting templates that they are able to adapt to their operations based on the increased understandings gained.
- Inform farmers of incentive opportunities for implementing the practice through programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and local cost-share opportunities.
- Promote the role of farmlands to address ecosystem function, carbon sequestration and resiliency via wildlife plantings to the wider community.
- Provide additional data and observations on role of wildlife plantings on pollinator/beneficials populations.
- Install six (6) demonstration habitat planting strips per year for a total of 18 demonstration planting strips, (~200ft each).
- Three (3) new annual demonstrations and three (3) new perennial demonstrations each year
- Expand beyond our three (3) collaborator farms and recruit at least two (2) additional farms to install demonstration habitat planting strips for a total of five (5) farms implementing the practice for demonstration purposes.
- By the end of the project, our target is to convert 1/3 of the workshop attendees (minimum of 20 farms) to begin the process of implementing the practice.