GREENSBORO, N.C., June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- From the manicured grounds of luxury golf resorts to the native wildlife landscapes across the Mid-South and Midwest, pollinator habitats are bringing renewed vitality to the health of bees and other pollinators. Contributing to this success are programs like Operation Pollinator, a global Syngenta initiative that helps restore pollinators in agricultural, golf and other landscapes by creating essential habitats. Equally important are the partnerships that enable this effort to prosper.
"As we observe National Pollinator Week, now is a great time to bring continued awareness to bee health and reflect on the progress of initiatives like Operation Pollinator," said Caydee Savinelli, pollinator and integrated pest management stewardship lead, Syngenta. "Like any endeavor designed to benefit the environment, partnerships and relationships are essential to realizing success."
Participation in Operation Pollinator entails planting plots with region-specific wildflower seed blends, which attract pollinators and function as essential food sources. In the United States, Operation Pollinator is widely implemented on Marriott Golf properties and commercial farmland—and is advocated by conservation organizations Pheasants Forever and Delta F.A.R.M.
For Sean O'Brien, certified golf course superintendent and director of grounds for the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida, a Marriott Golf property, Operation Pollinator underscores a steadfast commitment to pollinator health. After planting three Operation Pollinator plots on the coastal luxury property in 2013, O'Brien has witnessed bee populations flourish—so much so that he now maintains four beehives on the premises and has become a beekeeper. The honey harvested from the hives is used in signature cocktails and spa treatments at the resort.
O'Brien attributes the lively bee populations, in part, to Operation Pollinator. "The plots provide a food source and have helped the bees thrive," he said.
Additionally, the pollinator habitats—and their residents—bear witness to a sustainable and earth-friendly landscape. "Our clientele want to know that the inputs we use on the grounds are not harmful to the earth or their health," O'Brien said. "What better way to illustrate safety and sustainability than to observe the pollinators that have made their home here?"
For Pete Berthelsen, director of habitat partnerships for Pheasants Forever, wildlife habitats and pollinator habitats are synonymous. "The types of habitats needed to sustain pollinators and build biodiversity are the same types of habitats that appeal to pheasants and quail," he said. "As a conservation organization, we believe any farm can benefit from practices that build biodiversity—like converting unproductive land to habitats."
As commodity prices stagnate and farmers take a closer look at the return on investment of their land, converting marginal acres to pollinator habitats is a decision being made with increasing frequency, said Berthelsen. Additionally, advances in precision ag technology are helping farmers more readily identify the areas that would be beneficial to take out of production—acres where input costs exceed production value.
"This is a moment in time when an interest in pollinators and the acute need for growers to be strategic are helping us be good stewards of the land and making every acre the best that it can be," said Berthelsen.
Trey Cooke, executive director of Delta F.A.R.M., an organization dedicated to conserving and enhancing northwestern Mississippi's wildlife and natural resources, agrees that optimal crop productivity and biodiversity can be achieved concurrently. "There are many similarities between maintaining pollinator sites and managing farmland," he said. Delta F.A.R.M. partners with Mississippi Delta farmers and Syngenta to establish and maintain Operation Pollinator plots adjacent to fields of commercial row crops such as cotton, soybeans and corn.
Helping biodiversity flourish is not a goal unique to conservation organizations; it is among the six commitments comprising The Good Growth Plan, Syngenta's pledge to increase productivity while using fewer resources. Since The Good Growth Plan's introduction in 2013, Syngenta has enriched nearly four million acres of land through biodiversity-enhancing practices.
To learn more about Operation Pollinator and Syngenta's commitment to bee health, visit www.beehealth.org. Follow the conversation on social media using #OperationPollinator.
Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit www.syngenta.com and www.goodgrowthplan.com. Follow us on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/Syngenta and www.twitter.com/SyngentaUS.
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