A group of 40 farmers will take part in a five year project that aims to help provide small habitats for pollinators (bees, hoverflies) and other biodiversity. The habitats will offer food, safety and shelter on farms.

The Protecting Farmland Pollinators European Innovation Partnership Project (EIPs) is funded by the Department of Agriculture under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

A whole-farm pollinator scoring system will be developed by the national biodiversity data centre and will identify what management practices on Irish farmland most benefit pollinators. The project will also reward participating farmers for pollinator-friendly management.

The farmers have been recruited across different farm types and intensity levels in Kildare and neighbouring counties. It will be a results-based payment system – the higher the pollinator score of the farm, the more the farmer will be paid yearly.

Positive difference

Andrew Bergin, one of the participant farmers said: “By taking small actions we can make a positive difference. What’s good for the farmer is also good for the pollinator.”

The project will include insect and plant surveys to confirm that farms with higher scores do have more pollinators (bees, hoverflies) and more biodiversity generally. It is hoped this project will demonstrate how this scoring system could be rolled out on a national scale in the future.

Dr Saorla Kavanagh, project manager, said: “This project brings farmers and scientists together to come up with solutions to protect biodiversity. I believe that by working together we can generate practical and measurable actions that will help our pollinators, wider biodiversity and farmers. Within the project, farmers receive an annual payment based on their overall farm pollinator score which is calculated based on the amount and quality of habitat on the farm.”

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