CRP options to create pollinator habitats
In December the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) began accepting applications for the 2020 signup. CRP gives landowners the opportunity to enroll environmentally sensitive agricultural land into perennial cover for 10 to 15 years. Landowners receive annual rental payments and 50 percent cost-share to establish the perennial cover. The 2020 CRP signup has some less familiar options available that are specifically designed to provide habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
The first option is conservation practice 42 (cp42) pollinator habitat. This practice is specifically designed to provide the necessary habitat for pollinators throughout the growing season. The seed mix contains a wide variety of grasses and wildflowers that provide habitat and food for pollinating insects. The mix is designed to provide the optimal bloom period for pollination during the growing season.
The minimum size of a pollinator habitat plot is a ½ acre. Pollinator habitat acres can be combined with other CRP practices to create larger areas more suitable for other wildlife species. Wildlife such as pheasants and deer will utilize these smaller pollinator habitat areas as well but will benefit more from larger tracts of CRP.
The second option is CP43 prairie strips. This practice is designed to establish strips of diverse perennial vegetation to address soil erosion and water quality. The vegetation is also designed to provide food and cover for wildlife and pollinators.
The minimum width of a prairie strip is 30 feet and the maximum width is up to an average width of 120 feet. Prairie strips may not exceed 25 percent of the cropland area per field. This practice can also be combined with other CRP practices to create larger complexes of habitat.
Pollinating insects have declined as a result of habitat loss and other factors. These conservation practices give landowners a way to create habitat that supports pollinators as well as other wildlife throughout the growing season while increasing the number of pollinating plants that have not been included in very many CRP mixes in the past.
For more information about these programs or other habitat options, contact your local habitat advisor. Habitat advisors for your area can be found by visiting habitat.sd.gov.