CASNR tapped as one of four national native pollinator planting locations
A Texas Tech University entomologist has received word that he and a five-acre South Plains area research site have been selected as one of four national native pollinator planting locations for the fall season. The initiative, a collaboration between the Bayer CropScience's "Feed a Bee" program and The Wildlife Society, seeks to provide forage for pollinators, addressing one of the biggest challenges bees face today in the United States.
The project will highlight the importance of conservation actions aimed at improving foraging and other habitat resources for native bees, as well as managed honey bees. "In addition to pollinator habitat demonstrations, the plantings will provide a means to investigate how improvements in floral and habitat resources in different landscape settings influence pollinator communities, which is important considering the level of native habitat fragmentation on the South Plains," said Scott Longing, an assistant professor in Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science.
The project will involve a fall planting of five acres of pollinator habitat, with emphasis on regional education and outreach, he added. In Tech's case, the site will likely include some part of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' Quaker Research Farm at 200 N. Quaker Ave. in Lubbock.
Longing noted that the program organizers are especially interested in involving the local student chapter of The Wildlife Society, which in this case is Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management's Range, Fisheries and Wildlife Club, as well as other student groups such as the South Plains Food Bank's G.R.U.B. program.
The Bayer Bee Care Program and The Wildlife Society were reportedly drawn to the rich diversity of pollinators in the Lubbock area that could benefit from additional forage and habitat. Texas Tech faculty have been actively involved with the USDA Conservation Innovation Grants on pollinators.
"The university setting offers a unique opportunity to highlight the Feed a Bee project during future field days at the farm," said Becky Langer, a Bayer CropScience Bee Health Project Manager. "Through the national planting of native pollinator friendly plants, our goal is to further elevate and support these efforts by the various stakeholders in Lubbock as a great example of working together to promote and protect pollinator health."
The four national locations - Texas Tech, along with Kansas' McCarty Family Farms, Illinois' Salem4Youth and Florida's The Packers of Indian River - were selected because each has an important story to tell, and play a huge role in pollinator promotion and protection, she said. The next step, Langer said, is to begin to identify the source of native seed for each region, which will allow determination of optimal planting time and soil preparation.
Bayer CropScience launched its bee-based initiative last year to increase forage for honey bees and other pollinators. Production agriculture played a major role in the effort, and farmers were encouraged to get involved by including forage habitats in their operations. "Forage habitat is one of the top factors for bee health," Langer said.
Written by Norman Martin
CONTACT: Scott Longing, Assistant Professor of Entomology, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-1965 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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