Throughout the growing season, farmers utilize stewardship practices for proper pesticide use while protecting crops from insect pests and protecting pollinators. Even when companies call farmers “unprofessional” when it comes to spraying, producers don’t let that dictate how they do their job. Farmers must hold registrations, certifications, licenses, stay up-to-date on trainings and renewals, and so much more to be able use protection products. In addition, farmers have access to many different resources that protect bees and other wildlife, such as the BeSure! campaign from National Corn Growers Association.
Farmers also can check into these groups below for more resources and information:
- Honey Bee Health Coalition
- Farmers for Monarchs
- EDF Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange
- Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund
You can find more information on protecting pollinators in NCGA’s publication Best Management Practices for Pollinator Protection in Field Corn here. Keystone Monarch Collaborative also offers an excellent resource called the Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship guide.
Knowing and following label instructions is a key step to protect all pollinators. Farmers and applicators know that reading and following labels are the first and most important consideration when handling any pesticide. Cooperation and communication among farmers, landowners, applicators, crop advisors, and local officials greatly increase successfully protecting insect pollinators and habitats.
Here are a few additional factors to consider for integrated pest management:
- Understand Pollinator Habits: Pollinators are most at risk from pesticides applied to crops or other plants that are blooming. Before applying pesticides, be aware of the crop’s bloom stage, and nearby pollinator habitat.
- Evaluate the Weather: Applying pesticides before hot weather can lead to vapor drift, which could impact neighboring pollinator habitat. Farmers should also assess wind strength and direction to avoid drift.
- Nozzle Selection: Adjust your nozzle(s) and pressure to make bigger droplets. Bigger droplets fall faster, so they are less likely to drift with the wind.
- Buffer Regions: Develop buffer regions beyond the field or land that are designated to be free of pesticide application.
- Choose appropriate chemicals: Look for chemistries that are softer and have lower residual toxicity values, compare labels, and look for and understand the EPA symbols on labels.
- Apply only when needed: Scout regularly to ensure that you are only treating crops when necessary when they meet or exceed the recommended thresholds for pests or contamination.