With the onset of National Pollinator Week (June 20-26), it’s a good time for farmers and ranchers to know about the latest resources and opportunities for protecting pollinators and beneficial insects. Such projects not only benefit pollinators, but can also help landowners by improving soil health, reducing pest pressure and increasing yields in some crops.
Here are just a few of the programs currently available to California growers and ranchers:
- Seeds for Bees provides growers and orchardists in California free or subsidized cover crop seeds designed by Project Apis m., along with technical support. This incentive gives growers an opportunity to try out cover crops for themselves at a reduced cost so that they can experience the benefits first hand.
- Monarch Watch and its partner nurseries have distributed over 650,000 free milkweeds for monarch butterfly habitat restoration since the program began in 2015. In California, Monarch Watch offers milkweed seed ecotypes for the Central Valley and Southern California, and applications can be as small as for a one-acre plot in California.
- California Working Lands Free Seed Program, through the Monarch Joint Venture, offers free technical assistance, milkweed plugs, and a regionally specialized ‘More than Monarchs seed mix’ for pollinator plantings on private working lands in central California. Eligible projects are limited to private working lands in the Central Valley of California or adjacent foothills.
- Bee Friendly Farming is a certification by Pollinator Partnership – in exchange for providing bee habitat (including temporary cover crops) on at least 3 percent of acreage and meeting other criteria, farmers gain recognition as “Bee Friendly.” Benefits include being allowed to use the Bee Friendly Farming logo on products, technical support, access to customers and grants, and more.
- NRCS offers websites packed with information from popular articles to plant selection guides, along with financial and technical assistance programs.
- CDFA Healthy Soils offers financial assistance grants for farmers and ranchers to install projects that not only improve soil health but increase pollinator habitat.
- Visit the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resource’s “Best management practices to protect bees from pesticides.”
In addition to the above, your opinion is wanted – let us know what you believe farmers and ranchers need, and what works, to incorporate more pollinator friendly practices in the landscape. Take this survey, from Pollinator Partnership and USDA’s Farm Service Agency.