News from the Operartion Pollinator program and program partners.
- Syngenta Canada and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada partner to expand Operation Pollinator program on-farm in Western Canada
- Innovative program targets native bee habitat
- Key things to know about Operation Pollinator in Western Canada
Syngenta Canada and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada partner to expand Operation Pollinator program on-farm in Western Canada
Date posted: April 24, 2017
Operation Pollinator, a Syngenta program focused on research and partnerships to promote the health and well-being of bees and other pollinators given their essential role in agriculture and nature, is expanding its footprint in Western Canada through a multi-year partnership with the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC).
Through the partnership, farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta can sign-up to establish Operation Pollinator sites on their farms. SCCC is collaborating with three provincial partners to deliver the program in each of the Prairie provinces — the Agriculture Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA), Manitoba Conservation Districts Association (MCDA) and the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA).
Innovative program targets native bee habitat
Date posted: April 24, 2017
A growing global biodiversity program comes to Western Canada
Operation Pollinator is a program focused on research and partnerships to enhance biodiversity and promote the health and well-being of bees and other pollinators that play an important role in both agriculture and our broader ecosystem.
Originating in the United Kingdom with global agricultural company Syngenta, the program operates in several countries around the world. It includes both on-farm and off-farm components, including areas such as golf courses.
One component of the Canadian on-farm program is focused on Western Canada, where Syngenta Canada and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) have teamed up to work with Prairie farmers to establish Operation Pollinator sites on farms.
Farmer participants will convert one-to-two acres of land to a dedicated Operation Pollinator site. They'll receive support to help offset establishment and site maintenance.
"The goal is to maintain this new pollinator habitat over the long term to maximize the benefits for bees, the broader Prairie landscape, and farmers," says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, senior stewardship and policy manager at Syngenta, and program lead in Canada.
Partners, seed mix
"We are working in partnership with others to expand our reach and enhance the landscape," says Hoekstra. "This program can make an important contribution to the abundance and diversity of pollinators found on-farm and we are excited to be working with SCCC to bring it to Western Canada."
Syngenta is a leading agriculture company operating in over 90 countries. In 2013, the company launched The Good Growth Plan, a commitment to sustainable agriculture, focused on rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities and which Operation Pollinator is well-aligned with.
The SCCC is an independent, farmer-based, national, non-profit organization with a mission to promote the conservation and enrichment of Canada's soils and related resources. The SCCC and its provincial partners advocate for soil conservation and soil health while delivering programs related to best management practices.
The SCCC is collaborating with three provincial partners to support delivery of Operation Pollinator in Western Canada: the Agriculture Research and Extension Council of Alberta, the Manitoba Conservation Districts Association and the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association.
The pollinator-friendly wildflower mix provided to participants includes native species selected to fit the Canadian environment and is comprised of high-quality, commercial seed that provides a succession of flowering plants to produce an ongoing source of pollen and nectar for pollinators.
Opportunities to learn
A secondary benefit of the program is to improve understanding of how land management models focused on the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats impact biodiversity and soil health.
Sites can take a few years to fully establish themselves as a sustainable, ongoing pollinator habitat, says Hoekstra.
"We are continually learning from these experiences, in terms of what works and, equally importantly, what doesn't work.
"At the end of the day it's important that the participating farmers see value in the use of their land in this way and how it complements and contributes to the rest of their farm operation."
Collaboration, building trust
"What this program showcases is how we can work together to take positive steps and make meaningful contributions," he says. "I'm proud we have been able to engage with a variety of stakeholders, from farmers and academics, to farm organizations and conservation groups, in support of the health of bees and other pollinators.
Producers and others interested in Operation Pollinator can get more information on the program and how to get involved at the SCCC website www.soilcc.ca.
Key things to know about Operation Pollinator in Western Canada
Date posted: April 24, 2017
How the program works and how farmers will benefit
Operation Pollinator is a program focused on creating natural habitat on-farm for wild bees and other pollinating insects. It originated in the UK more than 10 years ago, and has since expanded to several countries including Canada. It has several components focused on on-farm, off-farm, research and education, and outreach activities. The on-farm component is now in Western Canada. It's an innovative program in the bee health space, and activities of this kind are quickly gathering interest in Canadian agriculture.
Simply put, farmers get support to improve biodiversity on their individual farm operations in a practical and meaningful way. The research knowledge gained and partnerships developed will also support further understanding of how land management models focused on the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats impact biodiversity and soil health.
"This is a program that we believe will appeal to farmers," says Jim Tokarchuk, executive director of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC), who is overseeing the implementation team for the program in Canada, as a result of a new partnership between Syngenta, the originators of the program, and the SCCC.
Here are some key things to know about Operation Pollinator on-farm in Western Canada.
Who is behind the program? The program is a Syngenta program which started in the United Kingdom. In Canada, Syngenta Canada and SCCC have formed a multi-year partnership to bring the program to farmers in Western Canada. Implementation of the Operation Pollinator program will begin in Western Canada spring of 2017.
SCCC is collaborating with three provincial partners as "boots on the ground" to deliver the program: the Agriculture Research and Extension Council of Alberta, the Manitoba Conservation Districts Association and the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association.
What is involved for farmers? To enroll in the program, farmers agree to convert one-to-two acres of land to establish a dedicated Operation Pollinator site. They will be eligible for some financial support and a pollinator-friendly wildflower seed mix to help offset the establishment of the new habitat as well as other site activities to maintain Operation Pollinator sites on-farm.
The goal is to maintain the new pollinator habitat over the long term, to generate knowledge about these areas, and maximize the benefits to pollinators, farmers and the Prairie landscape.
How does someone sign up? Farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are eligible to participate. Signup is easy. Go to the Soil Conservation Council of Canada website www.soilcc.ca, click on the Operation Pollinator button for the correct province, and follow the instructions regarding how to participate and other program details. Enrollment will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited.
What gets planted? Participating farmers will receive a provision of high-quality commercial seed, free of noxious weeds and invasive species, developed in collaboration with a third-party research partner. It includes a diverse range of native species that are well-suited to the Canadian environment.
Most of the plants included in the mix are known to bloom for lengthy periods, producing an ongoing source of pollen and nectar for pollinators.
What are the program benefits? The program delivers a number of benefits to pollinators, participants and the landscape. It's an opportunity for growers to improve biodiversity on their farms by converting a portion of land into essential habitat and food sources for a range of native bees and pollinating insects.
A long-term plan
"One key point for all prospective participants to know is that this program has been designed with a longer term view," says Tokarchuk. "The program has a track record that dates back several years and enrollment involves a multi-year commitment and perspective to initially prepare and then maintain the site."
"We have a strong team of collaborators across Western Canada to support the launch and delivery of the program."
Individuals interested in Operation Pollinator can get more information on the program background and how to get involved at the SCCC website www.soilcc.ca.