Illinois Monarch Project unveils comprehensive mowing resources

A coalition of scientists and 11 Illinois organizations and agencies, including Illinois Farm Bureau, developed the resource.

(Photo by Catrina Rawson)

Farmers and land managers can turn to the Illinois Monarch Project’s (IMP) new Mowing Guidance for a number of recommendations that best protect pollinators.

A coalition of scientists and 11 Illinois organizations and agencies, including Illinois Farm Bureau, developed the mowing resource to provide recommendations for farmers and land managers on mowing practices that best protect pollinators as they migrate through or live out their lives in Illinois.

“The IMP has been working very hard on articulating a long-range conservation plan for the monarch butterfly,” said Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of natural and environmental resources. “This guide is the first work product of the IMP Science Committee and came in response to a lot of questions from farmers and the agriculture sector about how they can mow better to support pollinators. We even developed the second, more detailed document, ‘Mowing on the Farm,’ to get into specifics about what farmers can do on their land.”

Science Committee members include biologists and conservation experts who support the IMP in developing appropriate and effective conservation practices that will improve Illinois for monarch butterflies, other pollinators and wildlife.

Some of the mowing recommendations include:

* Only mowing if necessary, and only for treatment of invasive species or woody encroachment; and

* Mowing in “strips” – only mowing one-third of an area at a time to allow for more diversity and refuge for wildlife.

Find the document Mowing on the Farm at www.ilfb.org/MowingOnTheFarm.

The IMP was established to bring together representatives of various sectors, including natural lands, rights-of-way, urban and agricultural sectors, as well as scientists and educators.

“All of the sectors involved are trying to do the best we can for wildlife, and we believe this guide answers a lot of the questions surrounding pollinator-friendly mowing strategies for rural roadsides, habitat areas, working lands and urban yards and campuses,” said Sue Hargrove, Science Committee chair and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) biologist.

Groups involved in developing the mowing resources include the Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, IDOT, IFB, Illinois Natural History Survey, Monarch Joint Venture, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, University of Illinois at Chicago, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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