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Pollinator Plot


If you ate today, you might want to thank a pollinator. From bees to butterflies to birds, pollinators are directly responsible for one out of every three bites of food we consume. They also facilitate the reproduction of roughly 80% of all flowering plants, including trees. In fact, pollinators contribute an estimated $217 billion to the global economy, supporting food and fiber production, clean air, and stable soil. These tiny creatures play a huge and vital role in sustaining the ecosystems on which life on earth depends. Wilkes County Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to give back to these pollinators by planting a pollinator plot.


The Pollinator Plot AKA: Conservation Cover, is a joint effort put together by The Wilkes Soil & Water Conservation District, in conjunction with The Wilkes Ag Extension, US Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation-National Water Quality Initiative, and The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. The Town of North Wilkesboro also assisted in mowing the plot.


The project is being funded by a grant from UDSA-NRCS-NWQI with the intent to promote and encourage the planting of similar pollinator friendly Conservation Cover Crops not only within the NWQI section of Wilkes County, which includes the East and Middle Prong of the Roaring River, but in all of Wilkes County and surrounding areas. The mix was developed by Jason Smith Biologist with the NCWRC and is put together in such a way as to provide a food source for various pollinators throughout the year. "There should be something in bloom pretty much year round."


The Mix includes:

Grasses:

  • Little Bluestem
  • Big Bluestem
  • Indian Grass

Flowers:

  • Blackeyed Susans
  • Indian Blanket
  • Purple Coneflower and Grey Headed Coneflower
  • Lance-leaf Coreopsis and Plains Coreopsis
  • Showy Tickseed Sunflower
  • Sensitive Pea
  • Showy Tick-trefoil
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Illinois Bundleflower
  • Marsh Blazing Star
  • Perennial Blue Lupine
  • New England Aster
  • Blue False Indigo
  • We are also very fortunate to have many volunteer milkweed in that particular area.

A planting demonstration had been planned, however, due to the current COVID-19 situation the field day had to be cancelled. There will be a field day scheduled for a later date when permitted. If successful we intend to host garden groups, landowners and others interested in this type wildlife/pollinator friendly planting.


After it is established, the plants should reseed themselves and continue to thrive not only as a food source for pollinators but as an enhanced wildlife environment.


A schedule for the planting was as follows:

  • June-July 2019 - Meet with Jason Smith-NC Wildlife to access the area and make a plan.
  • September 2019 - Spray the area to eliminate unwanted competition.
  • October 2019 - Burn the dead leaf and stem clutter-we were unable to do a prescribed burn due to the close proximity to US-421 and a nearby assisted living facility. The Town of Wilkesboro was gracious enough to assist us by mowing the area with their flail mower which is an excellent choice because it chops up the refuge and returns it as organic matter.
  • March 2020 - Repsrpay to eliminate competition and order seeds.
  • May 2020 - Calibrate Seed Drill – Jason Smith-NC Wildlife and plant seeds using the Wilkes Soil & Water Truax No-Till Drill, assisted by John Cothren-Wilkes County Extension Director.

The target rate of planting was between 6-10 pounds per acre and we actually planted approximately 8 pounds to the acre roughly 24 pounds on our 3-acre area.



Pictures