Pollinator Week runs June 20 to 26, celebrating the contributions pollinators make to our food and ecosystems. Pollinators are more than just bees, and altogether, they contribute between $235 billion and $577 billion annually to global food production.
Farmers have long known that agriculture and nature are intensely interconnected — in fact, more than one-third of all crops require pollinators for propagation.
Biodiversity is essential to the productivity of the land. Farmers can contribute by providing food and habitats for pollinators, promoting a healthy ecosystem, and setting us all up for a more sustainable future.
“Pollinators are critical to whatever crop you’re growing. The general public sees pollinators in their flowers and their shrubs around the house. As farmers, we’re growing crops to fuel and feed the world, and without pollinators, our crops can’t produce what they normally should do. Pollinators are critical to the agricultural community. Farmers for the last dozen years have been taking extra measures to save pollinators. We always have. My grandfather taught me that you need to take care of the soil and everything around it. That includes the pollinators,” says Chip Bowling, farmer and former chair of the National Corn Growers’ Association.
This week was initially established by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack through a USDA proclamation. Companies such as Syngenta and BASF solutions are funding opportunities for farmers to establish habitats in non-productive areas of their farms where pollinators can flourish.
What can farmers do to help provide habitat for pollinators?
- Plant non-crop vegetation corridors through programs such as #OperationPollination, by Syngenta. This program is helping farmers and land users to plant flowers where they aren’t planting crops. These corridors provide critical food and habitat for bees and other insects, bats, and birds. In fact, just three acres of marginal land could have up to 100 acres of positive benefit.
- Purchase seeds from native food sources for pollinators with the help of Agricultural Solutions Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund’s Seed a Legacy pollinator program. This year, BASF donated $50,000 as part of the Living Acres #MonarchChallenge initiative. This program provides free or reduced seed to landowners in Midwest states.
- Protect flowering plants and water sources. Landowners, farmers, and road departments can delay mowing non-crop flowering areas until seeding.
“Farmers have the biggest job on Earth,” said Paul Rea, Senior Vice President of BASF Agricultural Solutions North America. “Pollinators play a key role in helping farmers feed a growing population. BASF does everything we can to support farmers, including the advancement of pollinators, like monarch butterflies, in their work to support farmers,” Rea said.