- 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, organic agriculture
The Xerces Society provided twenty-five Pollinator Conservation Short Courses in thirteen states over the course of four years for staff from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), Certified Crop Advisors, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Extension personnel, as well as farm organizations and individual farmers. Leveraged funds were used for thirteen of the twenty-five courses, allowing us to bring the Course to additional states and hold multiple courses in some states. Western SARE was acknowledged for all of the events, and the events were promoted to Western SARE personnel and on the Western SARE event calendar. More than 1000 people participated in the Short Courses, for an average of 40 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—including 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, an overview of the latest research findings, conservation practices that support pollinators, relevant habitat assessment and management guidelines, practical habitat establishment guidelines, and an overview of how to take advantage of financial and technical support from the USDA via conservation programs authorized in the Farm Bill.
Based on surveys conducted immediately after and then again one year after each event, course participants demonstrated 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 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
We conducted full day Pollinator Conservation Short Courses in Alaska, Arizona, California (leveraged funds), Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon (leveraged funds), Utah, Washington, and Wyoming in the Western region. Our specific performance target for the Pollinator Conservation Short Course was to reach at least 200 participants total. We greatly surpassed this goal by reaching 1000 participants, averaging 40 people at each course. Leveraged funds were used for thirteen of the twenty-five courses, allowed us to bring the Course to additional states and hold multiple courses in some states. Western SARE support for this outreach effort was acknowledged at all of the events, and the Short Courses were promoted to Western SARE personnel and on the Western SARE event calendar.