by Cassidy Langridge
Farming Smarter conducted the Locally Adapted Pollinator Sanctuaries for Marginal Lands project in 2019. Its goal was to develop a long term, comprehensive, cost-effective and sustainable seed mix to conserve natural insect pollinators and enhance local biodiversity in southern Alberta. The results show rich biodiversity of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The pollinator seed mix enriched local biodiversity and not just pollinators hung around. Passerine birds, waterfowl and game birds also stayed at the sanctuaries.
In the end, numerous plant species provided a practical solution to create sustainable, low cost, low maintenance options to meet nesting and foraging needs of pollinators. Most of the crops used in the mixes can be forage and seeded into tame pastures or grazing areas for fall grazing. This project also created habitat and food for many vertebrates, invertebrates and insects.
This is just one way to help the pollinator species. There are plenty of ways to make sure that pollinators have a place to thrive. One way is practicing care with insecticides! If you use insecticides, choose ingredients targeted to specific species of pests and choose the least harmful formulations. Spray on calm, dry evenings, after dark when bees are not active. Remember that even when crops are not in bloom, some pollinators still visit nearby flowers. If the chemicals drift, it will kill them.
To learn more about this project, check out the Pollinator Sanctuary project.