Carmen Fernholz has been farming organically for more than 40 years in the Madison area and he is always looking for ways to improve the revenue generation from his cropping system which includes a rotation of alfalfa as a soil building cash crop. He learned that there were pollinator habitat incentive programs available through the Conservation Stewardship Program that he was enrolled in through Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS). Recently Fernholz began planting pollinator strips according to NRCS standards. He tilled up strips of land and planted a mixture of five native grass seeds and 20 different flowering plants that bloom at differing times of the year to attract the insects. “Moving toward pollinators has forced me to be more creative in my cropping system,” Fernholz said. Now he has a new source of revenue for his farm. “We farmers are coming to understand that it is not only the crop, but the plants we provide for the insects that we need to think about,” he explained.
Minnesota Department of Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson and University of Minnesota Extension Educator Robin Trott of Douglas County are featured in an in-studio discussion about the topic of pollinators. “Everyone has an ox to gore on this issue,” said Fredrickson as he described the Minnesota State Legislature’s efforts to design and implement policies to address the serious problem of honeybee colony collapse disorder. Raising backyard honey bee colonies is the “hot new hobby” according to Extension Educator Trott. She discusses ways to create pollinator friendly landscapes for backyards.
To address the growing need for public education on pollinator issues, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is organizing a “Pollinators Summit” on Friday, February 12 at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul. For more information contact Greg Bohrer at 612-334-3388 ext. 111.
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