Florida’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA/NRCS) recently recognized pollinators and the growers who create and maintain their habitat.
“Pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and many others, play a critical role in crop production,” Florida’s USDA/NRCS stated in a media release.
The recognition came as National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, approaches. The week is intended to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators and the challenges many face. The challenges include serious population declines and habitat losses, often due to land use changes and excessive or improper pesticide use.
USDA/NRCS says about 75 percent of crop plants are pollinated by billions of animals and insects every year. Many federal, state and local government agencies, non-government organizations and universities have launched extensive efforts to protect pollinators, especially honeybees and monarch butterflies.
The USDA/NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers financial incentives to agricultural producers and forest landowners who improve pollinator habitat by planting cover crops, wildflowers and native plants in buffers and areas not in production.
According to USDA/NRCS, farmers can help protect pollinators by doing the following:
- Plant appropriate vegetation. Use conservation practices and create habitat that sustains and enhances pollinators on the farm, forest or the yard.
- Use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides carefully on and off the farm, ranch and private forests.
- Protect flowering plants and potential pollinator nesting sites such as areas of undisturbed ground and native vegetation.
Learn more from University of Florida entomologist Jamie Ellis about steps growers can take to help prevent undue harm to pollinators.
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