So many big things on a farm: buildings, equipment, fields, and even the scale of business decisions. So, sometimes it can be easy to forget the small things like honey bees, Monarch butterflies and other pollinators that play a critical role in the health of the environment and high yields on many crops.
“That’s why we have a National Pollinator Week – Junes 17-23, 2019 – which launches today. Pollinators are an indispensable natural resource in agriculture and healthy ecosystems,” said Roger Zylstra, a Lynnville, Iowa farmer who heads the National Corn Growers Association’s Stewardship Action Team. “There is a growing awareness amongst farmers that they are on the front line in playing a critical role for their survival and NCGA is trying to help.”
NCGA is working cooperatively with numerous groups like The Honey Bee Health Coalition, Farmers for Monarchs, and the Environmental Defense Fund to expand pollinator awareness through education and providing tools to assist in identifying and implementing pro-pollinator best management practices.
Since 2014, when it began, NCGA has been a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, which aligns ag stakeholders with implementing solutions that help honey bees thrive in agriculture and our ecosystem. In March 2019, two Honey Bee Health Coalition member organizations — the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Canola Association — unveiled best management practices for growers to help protect bees in corn and canola fields.
Severe weather, pests and disease, lack of forage and nutrition, lack of genetic diversity and incidental pesticide exposure all cause problems for pollinators. Farmers can play a key role in proper pesticide applications and in habitat development.
NCGA urges farmers to be proactive by being more aware of bees and getting to know local beekeepers. Proactive communication between growers, applicators, and beekeepers is essential to protect honey bees from unintended pesticide exposure. Beekeeper and landowner cooperation based on mutual interests are important to mitigate risks of pesticide exposure to pollinators and to assure continued access to important tools used by farmers.
For tips on how to communicate about hive locations, crop management practices and more best practices to protect pollinators, click here.