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Focus on pollinator protection in USDA NIFA grant allocation

Over $2.8 million was awarded towards pollinator protection in ornamental horticulture through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The funds will be distributed over a period of two years, with additional funds available over a total five year period, to a collaboration of researchers facilitated by Dr. Cristi Palmer, IR-4 Project.

The research will further define pollinator attractiveness of landscape plants to help increase the supply of nutritious forage for bees and to identify key plants for targeted integrated pest management approaches to reduce pesticide risk to bees. Pesticide residue analysis will also be included.

A significant effort will be devoted to determine consumer preference of plant labeling, education, and development of pollinator protective language. Bumble bees and native bees will be the focus, since managed honey bees are rarely, if ever, utilized in the green industry. The results will directly benefit nursery and greenhouse growers, the landscape industry, garden centers, and consumers.

“AmericanHort and HRI see this project as critical toward providing our industry the guidance it needs to produce and maintain healthy plants and landscapes while also sustaining and improving the health of pollinators,” said Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President, AmericanHort.

In 2015, the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) dedicated $161,000 to five research projects as part of the Grow Wise, Bee Smart pollinator stewardship initiative. The research generated the preliminary data needed to shape and justify the SCRI grant objectives, and these scientists are key members of this large collaboration.

USDA NIFA funded 19 projects, a total of $36.5 million, as part of the 2014 Farm Bill’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Other funded projects HRI sees as important for our industry include a workshop to identify knowledge gaps for downy mildew on horticultural crops, also facilitated by the IR-4 Project, and brown marmorated stink bug management in specialty crops at North Carolina State University.

For more information 
Horticulture Research Institute 
Jennifer Gray 
T: 614.884.1155

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