Promoting diversity among plant and animal species is one of Monsanto Hawaii’s fundamental goals. Short for biological diversity, biodiversity is the scientific term used to describe the variety of life on earth and the way that species interact with each other and their environment. Biodiversity ensures the viability of ecosystems, which satisfies life’s basic needs like food, water, fuel and shelter.
“Biodiversity is critical to the health and stability of our ecosystems,” said Dan Clegg, business and operations lead at Monsanto Hawaii. “As farmers, we are committed to collaborating with conservation entities and implementing programs that help our crops thrive by encouraging a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna on our farms.”
A healthy ecosystem provides an environment that supports activities such as pollination, seed dispersal, climate regulation, water purification, nutrient cycling and management of pests. Some of Monsanto’s recent efforts to promote biodiversity include:
• Honey Bee Program: Monsanto has partnered with Project Apis m., Honey Bee Advisory Council, Beeologics LLC and BioDirect Technology to protect bee hives and promote bee health. Honey bees pollinate more than one-third of the world’s crops, playing a vital role in agriculture.
• Monarch Butterfly Program: Through Monsanto Hawaii’s monarch butterfly program, nearly 100 thriving crown flower (Calotropis gigantea) plants have been added to the Kunia and Molokai farms in an effort to increase the butterfly’s milkweed habitat, an important source of food for the monarch caterpillar.
• Pollinator Berms Program: In collaboration with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D), and West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District, Monsanto has constructed vegetative terraces (berms) to minimize soil erosion and reduce water runoff. These vegetative terraces also support plants that attract beneficial insects, and maintain a strong balance of ecological diversity within the fields.
• Soil Conservation Plan: Monsanto farms operate under conservation plans developed in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The purpose is to manage rain water runoff by constructing vegetative terraces, grassed waterways and sediment basins.
• Sunn Hemp Program: Monsanto has partnered with the Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council (ORC&D) to plant sunn hemp, a widely used and tested cover crop, which has proven to improve soil, prevent erosion, conserve soil water, recycle plant nutrients, suppress weed growth, and attract beneficial insects.
• Wildlife Habitat Council Partnership: A member of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) since 1989, Monsanto has been working with WHC on efforts to improve the wildlife habitat on its Molokai farm. Some of the conservation practices currently in place on Molokai include deep tillage to ensure farm lands remain healthy and productive, documenting wildlife species sighted on the farm and planting permanent vegetation around the perimeter of the fields.
To learn more about Monsanto Hawaii’s commitment to promoting biodiversity, please visit www.monsantohawaii.com.