Syngenta, Delta F.A.R.M. To Co-Develop Operation Pollinator Plots

Pete Hunter, Stovall Farms, a Delta F.A.R.M. grower during a 2012 CTIC tour stop.
Pete Hunter, Stovall Farms, a Delta F.A.R.M. grower during a 2012 CTIC tour stop.

Syngenta and Delta F.A.R.M. (Farmers Advocating Resource Management) jointly will develop commercial farmland into pollinator habitats. Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator is a global biodiversity program that restores native pollinators in a variety of landscapes by creating essential habitats.

Delta F.A.R.M. has committed to establish at least five Operation Pollinator plots in 2014 throughout Northwest Mississippi, with plans to grow the program annually through 2016 on more fields and farms. The Mississippi sites will be the first commercial farmland in the country to establish Operation Pollinator plots.

In Europe for more than 10 years, Operation Pollinator has transitioned from a research program to commercial implementation with producers. In the U.S., research efforts have been underway in several key pollination-dependent states   with the cooperation of the University of California-Davis, Michigan State University and the University of Florida. In the golf sector, Operation Pollinator already has been incorporated into more than 50 commercial golf courses across 20 states.

Under the new agreement, Syngenta will support Delta F.A.R.M. with grower training, seed choice and agronomic support to selected local farmers in Northwest Mississippi. Delta F.A.R.M. also will assess the effectiveness of the additional foraging habitat and nesting sites on marginal land or nonproductive farm areas, in an effort to enhance biodiversity, boost native bee numbers as well as promote sustainable agriculture practices.

“Our farmers know how vital bees are to agriculture and the environment,” says Patrick Johnson, Jr., chairman, Delta F.A.R.M., and partner, Cypress Brake Planting Company, Tunica, MS. “We look forward to collaborating with Syngenta to protect and maintain these pollinator habitats.”

With careful site planning and management, Operation Pollinator also can play a valuable role in reducing soil erosion and helping protect valuable water resources. And in addition to for restoring vital populations of pollinating insects, it creates habitats for small mammals and farmland birds.

“This native-pollinator habitat restoration program is a natural fit with Delta F.A.R.M.’s ongoing conservation efforts,” says Jeff Peters, digital farming lead, Syngenta. “Our goal with Operation Pollinator is to showcase that agriculture and biodiversity can coexist. We understand the future of the environment and that the livelihood of producers is dependent on sustainable agriculture to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

June 16 through 22 is National Pollinator Week, an effort to highlight concerns about bees. Loss of habitat and lack of nutrition are among the many factors that affect bee health, according to a report by the USDA.

Managing habitats for bees and other pollinators significantly increases biodiversity and also contributes to one of six commitments Syngenta made in its The Good Growth Plan — helping biodiversity flourish. Syngenta has promised to enhance biodiversity on more than 12 million acres of farmland around the world by 2020.

To learn more about Syngenta’s efforts to improve bee health, visit www.BeeHealth.org

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