Biodiversity is essential for plant breeding, pollination and diversity of food. It sustains the ecosystems that underpin fertile soils and plant pollination, helping farmers grow healthy food.

To increase awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues, the United Nations (UN) has proclaimed May 22nd the International Day for Biological Diversity.Beyond its role in increasing food production, conserving biodiversity and enriching wildlife, biodiversity also helps preserve genetic diversity, improve carbon sequestration in soil, mitigate floods and give people the chance to enjoy nature.

But biodiversity is increasingly under threat as wild habitats are lost to climate change, urbanization, and agricultural intensification and expansion. Modern agriculture protects and restores biodiversity on farms in several ways. Today, many farmers establish wild habitats on less productive land, such as in field margins and around waterways, as well as improve biodiversity within planted fields. This helps to reintroduce local species, provide buffers for soil and water conservation, and reconnect habitats for wildlife.

The interconnectedness of agriculture and the natural world is at the heart of the commitment by Syngenta to help biodiversity flourish as part of The Good Growth Plan. More than a third of all crops depend on pollinators for propagation, and the global value of pollinators is roughly $221 billion each year.

Operation Pollinator is one example of biodiversity in action. It’s an international initiative aimed at boosting the number of pollinating insects – such as bees– on farms and golf courses. Started 20 years ago, Operation Pollinator creates habitats for pollinating insects and wildlife by planting field margins with local wildflowers across 30 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. These pollinators play a key role in the ag economy. Scientists believe that for every three acres of marginal land planted to benefit pollinators, 100 acres will experience a significant positive impact. Bees alone contribute nearly $19 billion to the value of crop production in the U.S. annually.

Collaboration will be key to preserving biodiversity. Recently, the Iowa Soybean Association announced that farmers and landowners in the North Raccoon River Watershed will receive a major boost in establishing more conservation practices on more acres through a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The RCPP award will complement funding from state and local government, private industry, and the Iowa Soybean Association.  

A defining feature of this public-private partnership is the establishment of area conservation agronomists working in cooperation with ag retailers located within the watershed. This localized approach will boost the delivery, efficiency and effectiveness of conservation services to farmers. Over the next five years, farmers will be implementing practices that will reduce an estimated 781,000 pounds of nitrogen export from the North Racoon River Watershed, as well as 33,600 tons of reduced sediment loss.

Protecting pollinators begins with product stewardship. Understanding product labels, using products effectively and communicating with beekeepers helps ensure continued access to crop protection technologies.

That’s why – before using any crop protection product – we strongly encourage farmers and applicators to follow three steps to help ensure these technologies are used responsibly. Read the label first, act second; be a responsible planter and applicator; and, finally, communicate with your neighbors.

Ensuring a sustainable food supply requires each of us to play our part in preserving our land – and protecting pollinators. No matter your place in providing food for the planet, it is everyone's job to use crop protection products responsibly, to ensure these important tools remain available to help farmers protect their crops.This will help us all to conserve biodiversity and sustainably feed a growing global population. 

Caydee Savinelli leads the development and implementation of strategies and tactics for pollinator health and stewardship, integrated pest management, insect resistance management and biodiversity conservation initiatives at Syngenta. She has focused on pest management, product development and crop production throughout her career and has worked in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Caydee holds a Ph.D. in Entomology with a minor in Crop Science from North Carolina State University, a M.S. in Entomology from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in Biology from Gettysburg College.