- Crop Production: application rate management
- Education and Training: workshop
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture
The Xerces Society provided nine Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Courses in nine states over the course of two years for staff from the NRCS, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Certified Crop Advisors, the FSA, and Extension personnel, as well as farm organizations and individual farmers. More than 400 people participated in the Short Courses, for an average of 46 participants per course. Follow up surveys show that these Short Courses improved the attendee’s skills and capacity to implement pollinator conservation efforts such as installing conservation buffers, Integrated Pest Management to mitigate harm from pesticides, and tillage reduction to protect ground-nesting bees.
A new article in the prestigious journal Science (Garibaldi et al. 2013) clearly shows native bees make a significant contribution to crop pollination. The study has prompted a renewed call to maintain and manage pollinator diversity for long-term agricultural production. It suggests that new practices for integrated management of both honey bees and wild insects such as conservation or restoration of natural or semi-natural areas within croplands, addition of diverse floral and nesting resources, and more prudent use of insecticides will enhance global yields of bee-pollinated crops and promote long-term agricultural production.
Our Short Courses have been providing just such information to agricultural professionals.
Each Short Course includes an overview of pollinator biology, conservation practices that support pollinators, relevant habitat management guidelines, an overview of the latest research findings, and an overview of how to implement pollinator conservation programs authorized in the Farm Bill.
Based on surveys conducted immediately after and later (one year after each event), we have found that outcomes included increased awareness of pollinator population trends and specific practices to conserve these vital insects. Field staff from the NRCS, FSA, Extension, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts who attended the Short Courses went on to directly implement pollinator conservation strategies with their client farmers. Thousands of acres of land are being managed for pollinators as a result of these trainings. Our surveys show that over the long term this project will result in increased participation among growers of bee-pollinated crops in USDA conservation programs like EQIP, CSP, and CRP.
We conducted full day Short Courses in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio in the North Central Region (prior to this project we conducted earlier SARE-supported Short Courses in Minnesota and Wisconsin). Our specific performance target for the Pollinator Conservation Short Course was to reach at least 30 participants at each event. We greatly surpassed this goal by reaching 417 participants, averaging 46 people at each course.