e360.yale.edu By Richard Conniff 2/3/14
With a sharp decline in pollinating insects, farmers are being encouraged to grow flowering plants that can support these important insects. It’s a fledgling movement that could help restore the pollinators that are essential for world food production.
For the last few years, Richard Rant has agreed to let researchers introduce strips of wildflowers among the blueberry plants on his family’s farm in West Olive, Michigan. It’s part of an experiment to see if the wildflowers can encourage pollinating insects and, in a small way, begin to reverse the worldwide decline in beneficial insects. It’s also a pioneering effort in the nascent movement to persuade farmers to grow insects almost as if they were a crop.
That movement is being driven by news that is disturbingly bad even by gloomy environmental standards. Insects pollinate 75 percent of the crops used directly for human food worldwide. They contribute $210 billion in agricultural earnings. But honeybees are now so scarce...