Piatt County farmer says pollinator habitat pays dividends, allows him to 'be part of the solution.'
Piatt County farmer Jared Gregg, left, considers planting pollinator and wildlife habitat as the right thing to do for his farm, the environment, his wife, Lori, and daughter, Callie. (Photo courtesy Jared Gregg)
By Kay Shipman
Piatt County farmer Jared Gregg, a seventh-generation family farmer, looks to the future when he describes his 25 acres of pollinator habitat near Monticello.
Some of the habitat lies along drainage ditches. “The best use was for something other than row crops. It made sense to do something for the environment,” said the member of Illinois Farm Bureau’s Conservation and Natural Resources Strength with Advisory Team.
Gregg’s other block of habitat was formerly hay ground, but now is combined with land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and a nearby pond. Gregg noted the habitat, CRP and pond “enhance” the area.
With part of the habitat entering its fourth year, Gregg’s habitat is “amazing ... kind of a buffet all year long for bees and butterflies.”
Related: Learn more about what Illinois ag organizations are doing to protect monarch butterflies and other pollinators here.
But he readily admits management is required “to make it (habitat) work,” especially the first couple of years until the plants are established. “It will look a little woolly until the grasses choke out the weeds,” he added.
Gregg enrolled his habitat ground in CRP Conservation Practice 42 (CP 42) and followed the Farm Service Agency/Natural Resources Conservation Service advice on seed mixes and management.
“Farmers who go into this program (CP 42) enter it for the right reasons — environmental and conservation benefits — and there are some economic benefits,” he said.
Video: Learn more about the benefits of pollinator habitats.
Given his family’s “stellar relationship” with one of their landowners, Gregg said his family encountered no difficulties seeding habitat on some of the land.
“If it makes economic and conservation sense, they (the landowners) are willing to go along,” he said. “They’re very attuned to the heritage lifeblood of their farm.”
Gregg did receive some negative comments from another farmer when the young habitat looked woolly. Last year, that same farmer told Gregg, “It’s a good thing.”
As researchers seek the complex factors behind pollinator population fluctuations, Gregg reasoned he does “better if a food source is available, and I can’t think the application is any different for bees and butterflies.
“I’m not a scientist and I don’t know what is causing it (pollinator fluctuations), but I know I can be part of the solution,” he concluded.
Related: Ready to plant your own pollinator habitat? Check out the best tips, tricks and ideas for a successful habitat on FarmWeekNow.com.
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.