Innovative program targets native bee habitat

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Syngenta Canada and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) have teamed up to work with Prairie farmers to establish Operation Pollinator sites on farms.

Operation Pollinator is a program focused on research and partnerships to enhance biodiversity and promote the health and well-being of bees and other pollinators that play an important role in both agriculture and our broader ecosystem.

To enroll in the program, producers agree to convert one-to-two acres of lower-productivity land to establish a dedicated Operation Pollinator site. In exchange for dedicating the land, participating producers receive a provision of high-quality, pollinator-friendly wildflower seed, agronomic advice and assistance to help offset site establishment costs.

“The goal is to maintain this new pollinator habitat over the long term to maximize the benefits for bees, the broader Prairie landscape, and farmers,” says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, senior stewardship and policy manager at Syngenta, and program lead in Canada.

In Alberta, the SCCC is collaborating with the Agriculture Research and Extension Council of Alberta.

A secondary benefit of the program is to improve understanding of how land management models focused on the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats impact biodiversity and soil health.

Sites can take a few years to fully establish themselves as a sustainable, ongoing pollinator habitat. “We are continually learning from these experiences, in terms of what works and, equally importantly, what doesn’t work,” says Hoekstra. “At the end of the day it’s important that the participating farmers see value in the use of their land in this way and how it complements and contributes to the rest of their farm operation.”

Farmers wishing to sign up can visit the SCCC website where they will find details regarding participation in the program.

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