- Crop Production: pollination, pollinator health
Several erosion-prone sections of the Scattergood Farm totaling about 1 acre will be converted to perennial prairie with the goal of supporting pollinators and butterflies. Students in the Prairie Management project class (with possible additional help from Ag Research and Biology classes) will assist the farmer in finding the appropriate local ecotype seed mix and planting seeds. This is a longer term project in that we may not see flowers the first year, but as flowers show up students in Biology, Advanced Biology and Ag Research will monitor what pollinators are seen in the prairie restorations, with the assistance of different established metrics such as Bumblebeewatch.org, the Simpson-Diversity Index and the Great Sunflower Project. Additional curriculum applications include monitoring pollinators on vegetable crops and comparing their populations with those seen in the prairie restoration sections.
Students will be involved in many different ways in this project, from the selecting of the seeds to the planting to the monitoring of the growth of the plants (and subsequent maintenance of the prairies) to the monitoring and recording of pollinators that visit the plants while in flower (late spring or early fall).
• October 2014: Our Prairie Management class has been looking at local ecotype seed mixes that are forb-heavy to attract pollinators and butterflies.
• Early spring 2015: Seeds are planted by Scattergood students.
• Spring 2015: Prairie management observes growing plants.
• Summer 2015: Mowing and maintenance as needed.
• September-October 2015: Biology and Advanced Biology classes identify any flowering plants present as well as pollinators present.
• 2015-2017: Maintenance of prairie sections through removal of invasives and burnings (as needed… research has shown that annual or biennial burnings lead to tall grass growth at the expense of forbs, so we will probably minimize burnings only as needed to control invasives).
• 2015-2017: Continued periodic observations by Biology and Advanced Biology classes during times when plants are in flower and students are present (late spring and early-mid fall) of pollinators, recording all data for personal records as well as sending data to Bumblebee watch and other citizen science groups, for example, Project Bud Burst will be used for observing when different flowering plants open.