Operation Pollinator and ONFARM partner for increased pollinator habitat
By Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
Farmers engaged in soil health and water quality research through the On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) Program are eligible to participate in a spring initiative with Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator program.
Participating ONFARM co-operators will convert up to two acres of lower-productivity land into dedicated pollinator habitat. Both Operation Pollinator and ONFARM are delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Syngenta announced the partnership with OSCIA at the 2022 ONFARM Forum in February.
“Operation Pollinator has seen great success in Ontario over the past four years,” says Warren Schneckenburger, OSCIA president and ONFARM cooperator. “OSCIA was pleased to carry this momentum to ONFARM co-operators in 2022, who are committed to farming practices with benefits beyond productivity and that contribute to environmental and societal good.”
Operation Pollinator was first offered to farmers and rural landowners in southern Ontario in 2018. Since then, approximately 106 acres of pollinator habitat have been established by 44 co-operators under the Ontario program.
Participants will plant a blend of pollinator-friendly species, including birdsfoot trefoil and white clover, sourced with technical support from Speare Seeds. Sites will be maintained for at least one year, and long-term habitat establishment is encouraged. In addition, co-operators may choose to plant milkweed, which supports Monarch butterflies native to the province.
“In exchange for dedicating the land, participating farmers receive a provision of seed, agronomic advice, and financial assistance to help offset site establishment costs,” says Erin McGregor, stewardship and policy manager for Syngenta Canada. “This is a win-win for Ontario’s biodiversity and the farmers participating in the program. We are pleased to continue our partnership with OSCIA and recognize the efforts of program participants for making biodiversity an important part of their farm.”
ONFARM co-operators, like Norm Lamothe in Peterborough County, are leading farmers in Ontario and are well-positioned to showcase the value of agricultural biodiversity and disseminate their knowledge to other farmers. “We continue to see the benefits of integrating a diverse ecosystem on our farm,” Lamothe shared. “A compliment to our soil health initiatives, a pollinator site is another way we can encourage beneficial insects and bees to work within our cropping practices.”