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Saving the Bees: Encouraging Pollinators in Agriculture

by Estelle Drisdelle on June 29, 2016

SSummer has officially started and CFI is ready to get to work! Native pollinators including bees are thought to be in decline across North America mainly due to habitat loss and pesticide use, so this summer CFI has designated fallow agriculture land at the Rural Innovation Campus to enhancing pollinator health. Save the bees!

Within the last month CFI has seeded 4 acres of certified organic field with red clover, oats and buckwheat. These cover crops both enrich the soil and provide food and habitat for native insects. CFI is working with nature to improve the health of the farmland and the whole agro-ecosystem.            

Over the summer months and into the 2016 fall season CFI plans to monitor and record any increase in pollinator activity. CFI will pilot three methods of improving pollinator habitat this season and will be sharing the costs, benefits, and lessons from each method.

1. Seeding: cover cropping and native wildflower planting will take place at the farm during the 2016 summer and fall seasons. This will increase the species richness of the bee fields, allowing for a greater abundance of nectar throughout the spring, summer and fall.

2. Habitat structures: Especially important in urban areas, habitat structures are a nice addition to gardens and will provide a place for pollinators to stay over the winter. Building these structures is a cheap and easy method to support pollinator health – keep an eye out for our Pollinator Habitat workshop this summer!

3. Mowing: Comparatively the cheapest and easiest technique; mowing a 6-acre fallow field at the Rural Innovation Campus to encourage wildflowers. After the initial mowing, maintenance every 3 years is all that is needed.

“For pollinator habitat, it’s hard to beat an old field.”

- John Klymko, Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre

Pollinator conservation is an important aspect of sustainable agriculture; to build sustainability and encourage growth year after year CFI will be reaching out to followers to communicate updates through ‘how-to’ blogs and workshops! Keep checking our website to see how the bees are doing and to get involved!

 

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