Supporting pollination in agriculture
MSU led the Integrate Crop Pollination project, a nationwide, multi-institutional research project to investigate the performance, economics and farmer perceptions of different pollination strategies across a range of fruit and vegetable crops.
Approximately one-third of agriculture in the United States depends on pollination by bees, butterflies and other insects, totaling approximately $40 billion per year. Some crops, including apples, cherries and blueberries, are approximately 90 percent dependent on pollination by bees. This has been achieved through the use of both managed honey bee hives and natural pollinators present in the landscape. New challenges, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticide use and disease pressure, have caused declines in both managed and natural pollinator populations nationwide.
With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative, MSU led the Integrate Crop Pollination project, a nationwide, multi-institutional research project to investigate the performance, economics and farmer perceptions of different pollination strategies across a range of fruit and vegetable crops.
The ICP team developed the Pollination Mapper, a free, interactive online tool that helps growers make pollination decisions by providing insight and guidance based on satellite data, habitat information, the availability of wild and managed pollinators and other data.
- The ICP team conducted a wide-ranging outreach effort, holding talks with growers and producing informational resources freely available on the projects website, icpbees.org.
- ICP researchers determined that establishing wildflower plantings near agricultural fields provides pollinators with habitat and sustenance. Reducing mowing and tilling around the borders of fields protects underground bee nests and allows native plants to develop.