Learn how consumers and ornamental plant growers can protect pollinators at Ag Action Day

Learn how consumers, landscapers and commercial nurseries and greenhouses can protect pollinators in the landscape. The session will also cover 2014 marketing research on the public perception of conventional and alternative pest control practices.

Photo credit: Kristin Getter, MSU

Photo credit: Kristin Getter, MSU

The impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on pollinators has been a hot topic in the news this past year. Many people are concerned insecticide applications used to protect crops from pests may be contributing to the bee decline observed in commercially-managed honey bee colonies. The concern for pollinator health even prompted President Barack Obama to issue a presidential memorandum to create a federal strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators, which are essential to agriculture, our nation’s economy and environmental health.

In light of the frequent media attention, Michigan State University Extension has developed and published a series of articles that address pollinator concerns, such as “How to Protect Bees in my Yard and Garden,” and are currently working with commercial greenhouse and nursery growers on strategies to protect pollinators. MSU will also be coordinating the First National Conference on Protecting Pollinators in the Ornamental Landscape in collaboration with North Carolina State University. The conference will be held Oct. 13-14, 2015, at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

For an opportunity closer to home to learn about pollinator health or the effect of insecticides on pollinators, there will be two 90-minute sessions offered on the topics at Ag Action Day held at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College on Jan. 30, 2015, MSU Extension. Heidi Wollaeger, southwest Michigan greenhouse and nursery Extension educator, will cover how the concern over pollinator health has escalated in the last two years. She will also address how it became a concern for commercial growers of ornamental plants.

Attendees will learn the facts about the effect of insecticides on bee health when they are applied to ornamental plants by commercial ornamental plant growers prior to being delivered to the consumer. This session will highlight the most recent research results from a study performed in 2014 by MSU entomologist Dave Smitley.

Attendees will also learn about the American public’s understanding of pest control practices in plant production, the most important factors contributing to a consumer’s purchasing decision, and their willingness to pay a premium for “bee-friendly” plants. Wollaeger will offer the research results of a national online consumer study. The session will also cover strategies to protect pollinators for both commercial ornamental plant producers in the greenhouse and consumers in their yard and gardens.

John Stone, coordinator of the pesticide safety education program, will also cover pollinator protection. His session is aimed toward landscape professionals or other pesticide applicators. This session will focus more on recent changes to pesticide labels to protect pollinators and how those labels will affect pest management program in the landscape. Stone will also address how to identify beneficial insects that might already be in your yard and garden.

We welcome all to come and learn about this critical issue and learn how you can do your part in protecting pollinators. Register online now! The cost to attend Ag Action Day is $25. For the full list of the other 18 exciting educational sessions, download the flier