Programs give farmers incentive to create bee habitat

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Dan Gunderson
Minnesota Public Radio

On the edge of a narrow gravel road near Mahnomen, Fred Specht jumped from his truck and pointed out the site where he planted a patch of prairie four years ago.
“As you can see, it’s kind of low through there,” Specht said, “so you were always waiting on that low spot, and occasionally getting stuck.”
Specht said farming that small, oddly shaped corner of the field was inefficient because it took time to maneuver large farm equipment into it.
So it made sense to turn the land into pollinator habitat. Various U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs pay farmers to plant a mix of perennial native flowers and grasses to help support the bee population.
Scientists are trying to understand what’s killing bees, and one factor might be poor nutrition. In response, there’s a big push to provide more food for bees and other insects.

This year, Specht will plant prairie flowers and grasses in a second hard-to-farm corner of the field. These are small pieces of land, each about the size of the grass baseball surface at Target Field.


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