On-farm conservation of native bees: Understanding the barriers to implementation and assessing viability in WI cranberry
Wisconsin is the top producer of cranberries in the country. Cranberry, a pollinator dependent crop, requires insect pollination to produce fruit. Therefore, growers spend thousands of dollars each year renting honey bees to fulfill their pollination requirements. Recent declines in honey bees have made colonies more expensive, threatening the long-term sustainability of this practice. Native bees also pollinate cranberries. Unfortunately, their populations are also in decline due to habitat fragmentation, intensified agriculture, and agri-chemical exposure. Through on-farm conservation practices growers can protect and enhance native bees while harnessing their pollination services. While funding is available for on-farm conservation through the federal EQIP program, participation among Wisconsin cranberry growers has been nearly non-existent. By understanding why growers are not participating, agency personnel and university extension workers could adapt current management recommendations to increase grower participation while addressing grower needs and concerns. Participation in on-farm pollinator conservation programs has the potential to reduce growers’ dependence on external sources of pollination, enhance local populations of native bees, and provide a model for other pollinator-dependent crops in the Upper Midwest.
The objective of this project is to understand the barriers in awareness, attitude, and feasibility that prevents the implementation of federally funded on-farm conservation programs for native bees on Wisconsin cranberry marshes.
In the first year of this grant, we put together a 50-question written survey (see uploaded PDF) with assistance from the University of Wisconsin Survey Center (UWSC). This survey included questions regarding current management practices, managed and native pollinators, on-farm conservation, and demographics. We sent the survey to all 250 cranberry growers included on the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association mailing list and received approximately 50% of the surveys back. At the end of 2011 the results of the survey were compiled and databased by the UWSC. The data will be analyzed over the next year.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Through this survey I have had the opportunity to interact with many cranberry growers around the state. I have learned a great deal about grower attitudes towards conservation and federal programs. In the following year I plan to present the results of this survey through a scientific journal article as well as through an outreach document for cranberry growers.
University of Wisconsin
1630 Linden Drive
444 Russell Labs
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6082653762