A former South Dakota State University Extension entomologist says one thing would quickly improve habitat and food supplies for pheasants and bees: Stop trying to control non-noxious weeds on non-ag land.
"Routine and indiscriminate spraying of herbicides on highway and railroad right-of-ways, rural roads, public lands, Conservation Reserve Program land, abandoned farmsteads, and other non-crop idle acres is causing a depletion of valuable vegetative cover," says Ben Kantach, who was an SDSU entomologist for more than 29 years. Kantack is a member of the South Dakota Hall of Fame and the only SDSU professor emeritus ever awarded the Living Legend award.
"Killing insects and weeds that pose a threat to South Dakota crops is beneficial. But, of the millions of species of insects, less than a couple hundred pose any threat to South Dakota agricultural interests. Most actually benefit agriculture," he says.
On non-ag land, herbicide spraying should be limited to spot areas containing noxious weeds that pose a threat to adjacent agriculture.
"The acres of suitable habitat for wildlife, beneficial insects and pollinating insects -- including honey bees -- will be substantially increased by the elimination of spraying these idle non-crop acres," he says.