Think of Operation Pollinator, a new program being launched in the U.S. by Syngenta, as “plan bee.”
Jeff Peters, Syngenta’s technical manager for sustainability, says the goal of the program is to reestablish foraging and nesting areas to attract pollinators back to the agricultural landscape. “Kind of like the Field of Dreams,” says Peters. “If you build it they will come.”
Peters notes that 35% of the world’s crop production worldwide depends on pollinating insects. “One in every three bites consumed today is a result of insect pollination,” Peters says. “Loss of natural habitat is a key factor in the decline of bees and other pollinators.”
Field margins, riparian forest buffers, hedgerows and windbreaks are known habitats for bees, butterflies and other insects. Operation Pollinator has already been at work in 14 European countries in partnership with governments, universities and industry.
Peters says research is currently underway to find the best and most practical strategies for U.S. farm landscapes. “The challenge is to discover what plants pollinators prefer and consideration to native plants specific to that ecoregion,” Peters says. “Cost and longevity of native plants are all being studied.”
Grower cost share programs are critical for success of the program and several are established, including the SAFE Program in the state of Michigan. Peters says the company is working with agencies like NRCS, FSA and Extension partners.
Watch for demonstration plots to emerge next year.