Farmers are inherently dependent on pollinators for successful crop yields, yet getting them to adopt bee-friendly practices is more challenging in some areas than others. A new study from University of Oregon researchers found that farmers are more likely to invest in bee-friendly practices if they focus on honeybee populations, but this varies based on region.
In their study, the researchers surveyed 329 California almond growers and found that they favored growing cover crops, rather than installing permanent pollinator habitats or reducing pesticide use. This is because cover crops generally require less labor, water, and attention than other strategies.
The study also found that highlighting the honeybee and yield-boosting benefits of bee-friendly practices increased the likelihood that farmers would adopt them.
The researchers note that the popularity of different bee protection strategies varied by region, based on topography. In the wetter region of the Sacramento Valley, growers were more amenable to cover crop planting and permanent habitat investment than their counterparts in the drier southern half of California.
Study coauthor Jennie Durant emphasizes that this information should inform policymaking on conservation: “To me, it suggests a regionally sensitive conservation approach might make the most sense.”
To learn more about pollination and conservation in agriculture, check out our podcast interview with Beeflow’s pollination biologist Kristen Klitgaard.
Source study: Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems – A Regional, Honey Bee-Centered Approach Is Needed to Incentivize Grower Adoption of Bee-Friendly Practices in the Almond Industry