One of the topics the NCDA&CS will focus on this year is the important role that bees and other pollinators play in agriculture. The department has launched an effort to educate North Carolinians about pollinators and is setting up habitats at each of the 18 agricultural research stations across the state.
Commissioner Troxler says that, while on a trade mission to Europe last year, he saw the emphasis being placed on pollinator habitats in northern England, and he thought something similar could be done in North Carolina.
Bees, birds, bats and other pollinators account for $168 million in annual agricultural production in North Carolina. Up to one-third of our food can be connected to pollinators. These insects and animals play a role in everything from fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, strawberries, apples and blueberries, to row crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, canola and peanuts.
According to the USDA, habitat loss, disease and environmental changes have contributed to the decline in pollinator numbers. The best way to reverse this is a multi-step approach to expand and protect habitats on the farm.
The department is promoting a three-step approach to landowners. First, we must recognize native pollinators and habitats already on the farm. Second, farmers will need to adapt existing farm- and land-management practices to avoid causing undue harm to the pollinators that are already there. Soil and Water Conservation Districts will be working with landowners to help with plans. And third, we need to create habitat for native bees on and around the farm. This step is where the research stations are going to be leading the way. The stations are finding the right mix of seeds that will provide flowers, but not create more problems for farmers.
Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the importance of pollinators, and for additional information, click here.
[Audio:http://info.ncagr.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Troxler_1-6.mp3|titles=Today’s Topic for Jan. 6]
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