Establishment of native pollinator habitat in organic and conventional small ruminant pastures

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2013: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Joan Burke
USDA, Agricultural Research Service

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    To our knowledge, no one has conducted a study comparing pollinator establishment methods in conventional versus organic systems or their benefit to pasture quality and sustainability. Collaborators at NRCS (Booneville) will provide guidance and expertise in establishing native pollinator habitat in a certified organic and a conventional small ruminant pasture. Planting in replicates will be made following the specifications of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The target is to establish 10 native forages to allow flowering in spring, summer, fall and encourage or provide nesting habitat for pollinator species. Two producer sites will be established as well. At ARS, two 0.5 acre blocks per site will be fenced within existing pastures. Both sites are a mix of bermudagrass, fescue, and other forb species such as white clover. Once plots are established with native forages, sheep or goats will flash graze half of each 0.5 acre plot as needed to examine grazing management of the plot; the other half (control) will remain ungrazed and may be mowed. Bloom dates of native species will be recorded. Pollinator nesting sites and presence of pollinators near the plots will be noted monthly. Changes in grazing by sheep near the plots will be monitored, as well as forage production of annual and perennial species each year.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Establish a native pollinator plot and nesting habitat on a certified organic pasture, a conventional pasture at ARS and two farms, all with small ruminants.

    2. Determine establishment of each forage species, bloom date, and persistence.

    3. Determine species of pollinators present in plots and activity in nesting sites.

    1. Determine pollinator plant species response to small ruminant grazing and response of legumes in small ruminant plots to pollinators.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.