Where are the monarchs now?
The monarchs are now overwintering in forests at over 10,000 feet in Central Mexico. They will begin their journey back north at the end of February. Follow their migration at Journey North.
We spoke to Chris Benes, a corn and soybean farmer in Nebraska, whose family has enrolled land in CRP since the mid-1980s. Benes shares his insight about enrolling land in CRP, how he chooses what land to enroll, and the benefits that come from installing pollinator habitat on his farm.
“I basically have CRP coming in and out every year,” said Benes.
You can watch the full eight-minute interview in the video above or watch clips from the interview below to hear Benes’ thoughts on specific CRP-related topics like the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI), habitat management, and CRP benefits.
Environmental Benefits Index
“Pollinators will get me more points to get ground in the CRP program,” said Benes referencing CRP 42, the practice code for installing pollinator habitat. “I want the ground in CRP and I’m choosing pollinators to give me my best chance to get that ground in CRP.” Planting pollinator habitat increases your EBI score.
Farm Service Agency assigns each offer a score based on the offer’s relative environmental factors. Each offer competes with all other offers. Farm Service Agency determines the acceptability of the offer based on the ranking results. All offers are ranked nationally.
Selecting a practice made up of diverse native species like pollinator habitat (CP42), State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Projects (CP38), Rare and Declining Habitat (CP25), and Wildlife Habitat (CP4D) allows landowners to maximize EBI scores.
“The way I use the CRP program has changed a lot,” said Benes. “I’m using it now more probably for what it was designed for…the poor spots and highly erodible spots.”
Benes is able to make the determination as to what land he should enroll in CRP by using high precision tools now commonly used in agriculture. GPS farming and mapping provides precision data on ground quality and farm yields. This allows farmers to analyze the profitability of specific land areas. Benes also stresses that land must be properly maintained regardless of whether it is enrolled in CRP or in production.
“It takes management. I mean, a lot of people think CRP is where the government is paying somebody for doing nothing and in reality, they’re paying you for letting the land sit idle, that is true, but it takes management,” said Benes.
For rural areas “that do have a lot of CRP, you’ll see a lot more wildlife, you’ll see a lot more [beneficial] bug diversity, compared to areas that are fence line to fence line crop,” said Benes “you don’t see the explosion of harmful insects…nearly as often. There’s so much more of a wide and varied group of bugs that it’s hard for just one bug [species] to come in and massively take over and cause crop damage.”
Revisit this post to learn more about the benefits planting pollinator forage in prairie strips provided farmers.
It may be difficult to know where to start to participate in cost-sharing programs like the Conservation Reserve Program. If you want to know more, call the Pollinator Habitat Help Desk at (337) 422-4828 to learn more about how to begin. You can also ask about a variety of topics like seed mixes and site preparation and management.
We’ll share more information about General CRP signup when it is available.