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One easy thing that would help pheasants and bees

One easy thing that would help pheasants and bees

Stop routinely spraying ditches, railroad right of ways and other non-ag lands with herbicide, says a former SDSU entomologist.

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.

Native prairie flowers grow in a road ditch.

"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. 

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