December 19, 2017
University of Minnesota entomologists are looking for farmers and other landowners who would be interested in participating in a five-year pollinator habitat research project that begins with the 2018 growing season.
The study will examine the impacts of pollinator plantings on honeybees, native bees and natural enemies of soybean pests.
Scientists chose to focus on pollinator landscapes in southwestern Minnesota to complement research needed in row crop regions. Funding for the effort was approved by the state Legislature.
Christina Herron-Sweet, staff research scientist with U-M’s Native Bee Lab, says the lab would like to work with a minimum of 38 sites in its study. To attain that number, researchers hope at least 40 to 50 potential locations will be offered, since scientists will need to do site visits first to ensure the landscapes fit their research criteria.
Pollinator project volunteers
Farmers interested in volunteering will be asked to adhere to the following lease requirements:
• Sites must be between 1 and 15 acres of agricultural land for pollinator habitat installation.
• The five-year lease will apply to growing seasons from 2018 to 2022.
• A honeybee apiary will be placed 300 to 500 yards from the site. Colonies must be protected from direct spraying.
• No mowing or grazing of the site is allowed until late fall, except for weed management.
• U-M researchers must have land access for plant and insect sampling eight to 10 days per year.
“We are open to different types of land including cropland, old fields, or land currently enlisted in federal or state conservation programs such as CRP [Conservation Reserve Program] or RIM [Reinvest in Minnesota],” Herron-Sweet says.
The university will provide seed mixes and contract installation of the pollinator habitat.
Herron-Sweet encourages farmers to consider working the researchers on the project. She says land rental fees will be competitive with CRP, paperwork to be done by the landowner will be minimal, and participation will be kept confidential. She adds, however, that payments will only apply to property taken out of production and that payments cannot be in conjunction with pre-existing payments from state or federal programs.
Participating landowners will be selected by late February, she adds, in order to plan for spring prep work.
For more information or to volunteer for the research project, contact Dan Cariveau, U-M assistant professor at 612-624-1254 or [email protected].
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