Corn Dust Research Consortium awards research grants
The nonprofit Pollinator Partnership announced the grant award decision of the Corn Dust Research Consortium, a multi-stakeholder initiative formed to fund research with the goal of reducing honey bee exposure to dust emitted during treated-seed corn planting.
The successful proposals were submitted by Reed Johnson of Ohio State University, Mary Harris of Iowa State University, and the Grain Farmers of Ontario on behalf of Art Schaafsma, University of Guelph. The research will be completed this fall and has as its objective a better understanding of the conditions found during the 2013 corn planting season. It is hoped that the results will inform best practice recommendations for the 2014 planting season. Additional research may be considered for subsequent seasons.
“We are very pleased with the winning protocols submitted by researchers from corn-growing regions in the U.S. and Canada. The CDRC, a large-scale collaboration between disparate stakeholders, each of whom shares equally in the supervision of the project, is eager to know more and to achieve clarity in helping to alleviate this problem,” said Pollinator Partnership’s Executive Director Laurie Davies Adams.
The researchers underscored their enthusiasm for the task ahead.
“Beekeepers in Ohio and across the country have been hit by colony losses. Many factors have contributed to those losses—diseases, mites and nutrition—but insecticidal seed treatment dust emanating from planters has the potential to increase colony loss,” Johnson said. “The research funded by the Corn Dust Research Consortium will help us understand how bees in Ohio come into contact with this potentially deadly dust and allow us to identify management practices that could reduce bees’ exposure.
“This research is a great first step in addressing current agricultural practices associated with planting treated corn seed and the possible impact of these practices on honeybee health. Farmers and beekeepers are all looking for answers and guidance to mitigate harm to honeybees. We hope results of this study can help identify best practices to maintain the health of bees.”
This announcement of the CDRC grant awards coincides with the release of the USDA-EPA Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health. The key findings of this report identified four major influences affecting pollinator decline: Parasites and disease, nutritional stress, genetics, and pesticide exposure.
Research indicated that the most significant impact has been through the overall loss of clean habitat. The genesis of the CDRC began in the collaborative discussions of the National Stakeholders Conference. These sessions encouraged collaborative efforts to develop strategic and sustainable change. The CDRC stakeholders bring expertise in crop protection, seed production, farm equipment, corn growing, beekeeping, academic, governmental, and conservation.
The CDRC participating organizations include the American Seed Trade Association, the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Bayer CropScience, the Canadian Honey Council, the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the Pollinator Partnership, Syngenta, and the University of Maryland. These organizations have come together to fund and oversee two research projects to better understand ideas for mitigating risks to honey bees from exposure to planter-emitted dust during corn planting.
Input on the selected research protocols is being sought from US and Canadian regulatory and research agencies to ensure that the study is proceeding in a manner consistent with acceptable protocols.
Established in 1997, the Pollinator Partnership is the largest 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the health, protection, and conservation of all pollinating animals. For more information, visit www.pollinator.org.