Bayer Funding Means More Beautiful Beds to Help Bee Population
RALEIGH - Nearly 60 acres of sunflowers bloomed this summer thanks to the N.C. Department of Transportation's partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and the 2015 financial support from Bayer CropScience.
And the relationship with Bayer continues. This week, the company pledged $50,000 to support the statewide pollinator project in 2016.
"Bees are the spark plugs of agriculture," says N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "If the spark plug's not functioning, neither is the car." State agriculture officials estimate up to a third of the food we eat can be directly attributed to the work of pollinators. Bees and butterflies pollinate flowers that bear apples, berries, cucumbers, peaches, squash, watermelon, and many other fruits and vegetables.
The support from Bayer CropScience will continue beyond summer after the sunflowers have wilted. NCDOT's central Roadside Environmental Unit in Raleigh has studied the exact timing on when to mow these sunflowers. The appearance of the flower head as it dries and begins to die indicates when to cut it in order to scatter the seeds and have a sunflower crop for next year.
In the fall, NCDOT crews will plant 28 acres of canola, which produces beautiful and pollinator-friendly flowers. Those beds should bloom early next summer.
With the 2016 funding, NCDOT plans to concentrate on planting pollinator-friendly perennial mixes on rights-of-way across the state.
"We are very appreciative of what Bayer CropScience is doing for our state," says Don Lee, State Roadside Environmental Engineer. "We hope to see pollinator projects continue to grow with additional funding partners."
This video provides more information on Pollinator Habitats and the NCDOT Wildflower Program.