When it comes to pollinators, Nebraska farmers and ranchers are creating habitat to boost their populations and harness their value. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has programs to promote pollinators, like bees and butterflies.
Pollinators provide crucial assistance to fruit, vegetable and seed crops, but many species are seeing their numbers fall, says Kasey Taylor, acting state conservationist for Nebraska.
NRCS has 37 conservation activities, or practices available through the Farm Bill, to help producers create the perfect places for pollinators to forage and take shelter.
"Making room for pollinators on your farm or ranch isn't too difficult or expensive, and NRCS wants to help you make those improvements that will not only benefit pollinators but also help your land as well," Taylor says.
More than three-fourths of the world's flowering plants rely on pollinators to reproduce, equating to one of every three bites of food people eat. Many plants would be unable to reproduce without the help of pollinators.
"Bees and other pollinators provide a tremendous ecological service," says Retch Nelson, NRCS biologist in Nebraska. "Creating habitat for pollinators attracts beneficial insects, produces wildlife habitat, reduces soil erosion and improves water quality. Pollinators help keep the whole ecosystem healthy."
Scientists attribute a number of factors, including habitat loss, disease, parasites and overuse of pesticides for pollinators' peril.
Agencies and partners across the country are working on science-based solutions to support pollinators. Go to the NRCS website, at www.nrcs.usda.gov, to learn more about pollinators and how to protect them.