Pollinators at work

Pollinators are critical to our ecosystem and growers like you can make a big difference by making sure there are plenty of flowers for them to feed on. Pollinator mixes contain both annuals and perennials, blooming in the first season and for years after.

Benefits

  • High-quality nutrition: The protein-dense pollen of legumes can aid in the development of bee larvae.
  • Nitrogen fixing: Legumes provide their own nitrogen by fixing it from the air while also providing some to non-nitrogen-fixing neighbours.
  • Soil health: Mixes provide food to micro-organisms that improve soil health.
  • Cover crops: Many of these plants are used as cover crops and as green manure crops, protecting the land from soil erosion and adding organic matter to the soil.
  • Extended bloom period: All of these plants (except timothy) are known to bloom for lengthy periods, and the perennials will continue to bloom throughout the season with good management practices.
  • Beneficial insects: Establishing perennial pollinator habitat also helps other beneficial insects which can enhance natural pest control in the crop.

Tips for selecting and establishing a pollinator site

  • Areas on the farm that can benefit from a pollinator habitat include:
  • Lower-productivity lands (not too saline or sensitive to drought)
  • Areas adjacent to hedgerows and other ecologically sensitive areas (e.g. ponds, drainage ditches, other riparian areas)
  • Sites with decent drainage, adequate soil fertility and suitable sun exposure
  • Cut-outs such as corners of fields

Site preparation

  • Mow the area. If vegetative residues are excessive, they should be removed.
  • Control weeds with a burn-down herbicide (with no residual soil activity).
  • Some light tillage may be necessary to ensure an adequate seedbed and that the seed is in direct contact with the soil.

Seeding

  • Seed the mix either with a broadcast spreader or drill (set to one-half inch deep or less).
  • Seeding rate for this seed mix is 11 lb/ac (12.5 kg/ha).
  • If broadcasting, set to double seeding rate at 22 lb/ac (25 kg/ha) and decrease spreading width to half of normal to ensure good coverage.

Site maintenance

  • Irrigation may be beneficial but is not a requirement
  • Fertilization is not required

Pollinator mixes are available in 22.7 kg and 10 kg bags. Ask your Nutrien Ag Solutions retail about our annual and perennial pollinator mixes.

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