CLAIRE KREMEN: How can we protect pollinators?

CLAIRE KREMEN, conservation biologist

Pollinators are critically needed to pollinate three-quarters of our crop species, comprising about one-third of our food supply. We can protect pollinators by altering our farming systems. Instead of large monocultures, our farms fields should grow many different crops, should rotate crops across time, and should include non-crop plantings such as insectary strips and flowering plant hedgerows. The landscapes encompassing our farms should not only support many different types of crops, but also include pastures, fallows, meadows and woodlots. Diversified farming systems such as these will provide plenty of floral and nesting resources for wild bee species and also honeybees, our semi-domesticated pollinator workhorse.

And since what’s good for the bees is good for many other critical ecosystem services on the farm—such as generation of fertile soils, efficient use of nutrients and water, and control of weeds, pests and diseases—by utilizing sound agroecological principles we can promote a healthier agroecosystem that produces good food while using less energy, water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides and creating far fewer wastes.

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