Over the past decade, one of the priorities of NCAP's Pesticide-Free Food and Farming Campaign has been to provide farmers with technical expertise on how to successfully establish permanent on-farm invertebrate habitat without the use of pesticides. We have conducted on-farm habitat installations on 5% of organic farms in Idaho and are preparing to launch in Oregon. We've also provided numerous educational events and resources to increase pesticide-free habitat around the Northwest and raise awareness around the impacts of pesticides on pollinators and other beneficial insects such as beetles, parasitoid wasps and butterflies. In 2022 we are piloting a non-agricultural habitat project which expands this work to homes, parks, schools, and other public spaces on the Fort Hall Reservation.
NCAP has expertise assisting agricultural land owners and managers plan habitat that fits into the whole farm management plan. Hedgerows are a popular habitat choice because they can be integrated into fields or along field edges; other habitat projects NCAP has consulted on include pollinator meadows, pivot corner and center plantings, windbreak and rangeland floral enhancement, as well as cover crop trials. High quality on-farm habitat lends to the overall agroecological health of any agricultural operation by providing food and shelter for pollinators and other beneficial insects. This in turn ensures these important species are nearby to pollinate crops and keep crop pests in check. Costs associated with this work are provided by member donations (especially during our annual valentine fundraiser), GloryBee's Save the Bee Initiative, and grants like the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant.
Examples of Beneficial Insect Habitat Installations
Swift River Farm
Swift River Farm is a small, but mighty certified organic vegetable farm, run by Jeremy Shreve and Jessica McAleese. Each season, they work hard to create dynamic and enduring partnerships between their farm and community, striving for ecological, economical, and socially just ways to grow and eat our food. The goal of this 400 foot hedgerow was to better define the edge of production fields from a riparian zone, while also introducing flowering species into the grass dominated system that persists from when the property was used to graze cattle.
Purple Sage Farm
Purple Sage Farm is a 35-acre multi-generational organic farm run by the Sommer family that produces culinary herbs, specialty greens, fruits, and vegetables. The goals of establishing habitat at this site was to provide pollination and pest management. Particular site considerations include establishing the habitat in a central location on the farm with adequate access to sunlight and the existing irrigation system. Review the case study here.
Valley Pacific Farm
Valley Pacific Farm is a 300 acre farm that specializes in production of dry beans, barley, wheat, corn, and alfalfa hay. The goal of habitat establishment at this site was to provide bee habit adjacent to fields where crops were growing. Matt Townsend, of Valley Pacific Farms, wanted to take an area, in this case a pivot base, that was unproductive and turn it into something of value. Review the case study here.
To learn more about our pollinator and beneficial insect educational events, see resources from our Bee Conscious field day and Day 1 of the 2017 Organic Farming Conference. Also learn about our 2019 Field Day and our 2017 Field Day.