Pollinators are essential for crops
By Becky Keim
Published Thursday, February 23, 2017 8:27 am
The majority of Americans pay little attention to pollinators -- bees, butterflies, wasps, moths and other insects.
However, without pollinators, many crops would not grow. A large variety of fruits and vegetables would become scarce or incredibly expensive, and the cost of other products, including clothing (as cotton is bee-pollinated), would be impacted.
Over 70 percent of the world's crop plants depend on pollination. In addition, many fruit and vegetable crops require pollination to produce. Wildlife like deer, quail, pheasants and other animals depend on the production of berries and fruits for food.
Many human actions, such as pollution and conversion of natural habitat, have impacted pollinators and their ability to provide ecosystem services.
In our modern agricultural world, drift (or unintentional off-target contamination) from aerial spraying of pesticides has become a major threat to our pollinators. Most insecticides (and a handful of fungicides and herbicides) can kill bees directly or have sublethal effects that can, among other things, negatively impact bees' ability to reproduce and forage.
The best thing we can do for pollinator conservation is to avoid using pesticides. Unfortunately, avoiding pesticide use, particularly in today's precision farming world, is not an option for most farmers.
A solution presented by DriftWatch and Xerces Society is to take steps in reducing drift and maintaining buffer zones between sprayed areas and pollinator habitat areas.
Check out driftwatch.org and xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center/ for more on pollinator conservation.