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BASF creates ‘Living Acres’ at FPS

By Staff | Sep 2, 2016

Farm Progress Show organizers claim this is the nation’s largest outdoor farm show with nearly 600 agricultural displays plus field demonstrations. The 63rd annual show was held for the fifth time at Central Iowa Expo along U.S. Highway 30 between Ames and Boone.

BOONE – One of the 600 displays at the 2016 Farm Progress show was established to not only be informative to the thousands of show-goers, but as a way to help out the monarch butterfly.

Living Acres, a research initiative from BASF, has been started to focus on providing the best practices to farmers who want to increase biodiversity alongside their modern agricultural operations.

“We want to help with increasing on-farm biodiversity,” said Luke Bozeman, director of research and development for crop production with BASF. “We hear challenges pollinators have as well as the monarch butterfly declining in population and one contributing factor is the lack of diversity in plants as a food source.”

Bozeman said Living Acres is a way BASF can encourage on-farm research and help growers be proactive and grow a more diverse habitat for beneficial insects and other animals as well.

He explained a habitat filled with diverse plants doesn’t have to be a large area.

LUKE BOZEMAN, director of research and development for crop production for BASF, looks at a young milkweed growing in the Living Acres display at the Farm Progress Show. BASF is encouraging producers to grow milkweeds in non-crop areas to help benefit the monarch butterfly.

“We are aware farmers are in the business to produce crops,” he said. “These can be areas that require minimal input, time and expense.”

Bozeman suggested keeping those fence rows, right of ways and even just a few square yards can be made into a diverse habitat can make a big difference.

The first biodiversity issue Living Acres is addressing is the recent decline in the monarch butterfly population.

Bozeman said there are a variety of factors that have led to the decline of the monarch butterfly within the last decade, including loss of milkweed habitat and severe weather issues in their over-wintering destinations.

Milkweed is the only plant, according to BASF, that monarch larvae feed on, making it a critical part of the butterfly’s life cycle.

BASF, Bozeman said, has research stations in North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa where it is looking at the effectiveness of establishing milkweed.

This research has shown that by planting milkweed refuges in non-cropland areas, such as ditches, roadsides, alleyways and border areas, farmers can help increase monarch populations.

“We are demonstrating that farmers can be part of the solution,” he said. “Farmers are good stewards of the land and can do so more by planting a diverse area of plants including milkweeds.”

More information on how to develop these areas can be found by visiting www.agro.basf.us/living-acres/index.html.

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