Froid Farm Tour Featuring Pollinators During National Pollinator Week

Fifteen years ago, the United States Senate unanimously approved the designation of a "National Pollinator Week" in June to address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. This year's Pollinator Week is June 19-25 and appropriately, pollinators are the focus of a special segment of the annual Froid Research Farm Field Day set for Thursday, June 22 from 1-5:30 p.m. Registration is at 12:45 p.m.

During that special segment, field tour participants will be introduced to the many native bees and other pollinators that contribute to our agricultural systems and the research being done by USDA scientists to better understand their biology and behavior in order to preserve and rebuild their populations. Dr. Joshua Campbell, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) lab research ecologist and pollination specialist, Sidney, is the presenter.

According to Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit working to protect pollinators and the originator of Pollinator Week, native insects are particularly important in agriculture as they act as a cushion when managed honey bees and bumble bees are in short supply. Beneficial native insects can provide up to 30% of pollination needs, according to the Partnership, and the need is vital. Altogether, 87 of 124 main crops used for human consumption depend on pollinators, Campbell notes, and over 75% of all flowering plants require animal/insect pollination to ensure healthy ecosystems, including rangelands.

Campbell's talk Thursday afternoon is followed up by a Beekeeping 101 workshop for those interested in boosting pollinator services on their property. The workshop, led by Roosevelt and Valley County Extension Agents Wendy Becker and Shelley Mills, will cover all aspects of starting and maintaining healthy honeybee colonies on your farm, from the equipment needed, to how to select a good site for your hive(s) and what to look out for in terms of pests and diseases. Particular emphasis will be placed on the parasitic varroa mite, considered a major contributor to colony collapse disorder among honey bees. During the workshop, participants will have a chance to examine and learn how to identify these and other minute pests with the aid of microscopes set up for that purpose. Together, Becker and Mills bring considerable knowledge to the event, having both completed the University of Montana's Master Beekeeping program before joining forces to conduct their own beekeeping workshops for newcomers in recent months.

In addition to the pollinator presenters, this year's Froid Research Farm Field Day includes the following topics and speakers, all with USDA-ARS in Sidney unless otherwise noted:

• Grasshopper management -Dave Branson, research entomologist

• Mammals and the regional spread of Russian olive - Natalie West, research ecologist, and Joshua Campbell, research ecologist | pollination specialist

• Water availability following a cover crop - Brett Allen, research agronomist

• AMF/rhizobium treatments for pea seed - Sadikshya Dangi, research microbiologist, and Rosalie Calderon, post doc

• Fusarium and Aphanomyces root rot in field pea - Frankie Crutcher, assistant professor / plant pathologist, MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center, Sidney

Carbon sequestration under perennial grasses and an annual crop - Upendra Sainju, research soil scientist

• Using fire to manage cheatgrass | Greenstripping techniques for wildfire protection - Carissa Wonkka, research ecologist

The day concludes with a free steak supper sponsored by the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Conservation Districts, who are also sponsors for the tour along with the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Extension offices and the USDA ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory. Sidney. Four pesticide points are available.

The Froid Research Farm is located eight miles north of Culbertson along MT HWY 16.


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