National pollinator week
In 2016, the Iowa Farm Service Agency (FSA), worked with Iowa farmers and landowners to convert 97,371 acres of cropland to new pollinator habitat plantings by utilizing the Conservation Reserve program (CRP), more specifically the CP42 Pollinator Habitat Initiative. The purpose of this practice is to establish habitat that supports a diversity of pollinator species on cropland.
The CP42 Pollinator Habitat Initiative has been an option to farmers and landowners since the spring of 2012. To date Iowa farmers and landowners have enrolled 112,707 acres. Beginning in the spring of 2015 Iowa FSA expanded outreach efforts for the CP42 Pollinator Habitat Initiative through local USDA Service Centers. Iowa farmers and landowners heard the call to action and our state now leads the nation in CP42 Pollinator Habitat enrollment with nearly 40 percent of the acres enrolled nationally.
The CRP Pollinator Habitat Initiative enhances honey bee and native pollinator populations. CRP provides farmers and landowners with initiatives like this to achieve many farming and conservation goals. Whatever the conservation challenge – soil conservation, water quality protection, or wildlife habitat enhancement – CRP is a proven land performance and management solution.
The honey bee, monarch butterfly and native pollinator populations have experienced significant decline over the past decade. A lack of flowers and forbs to provide pollen and nectar is believed to be a major contributing factor for these declines.
The CRP pollinator initiative is designed to provide better access to nutrition for pollinators. By establishing, managing or replacing existing cover crop vegetation with seed mixes that support distinct blooming cycles of plants benefitting pollinators, CRP participants create healthy environments for honey bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and wasps. Together, these insects are responsible for pollinating more than one-third of the foods we eat and 80 percent of the plants. By assisting honey bees in particular, the pollinator initiative helps USDA continue to secure our food supply.
CRP is a land conservation program administered by the FSA. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10 to 15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and enhance wildlife and pollinator habitat.
In recognition of National Pollinator Week June 20-26, Iowa FSA salutes our state’s farmers and landowners for their leadership in pollinator habitat development.