Pollinator Habitat


6260 Old Harding Highway
Mays Landing, New Jersey 08330
Phone: (609) 625-3144
Fax: (609) 625-7360
Vegetated Compost Filter Sock for
Establishing or Enhancing Pollinator Habitat
Conservation Innovation Grant Project

Pollinators and the habitat resources on which they depend warrants management and enhancement where possible and feasible. Pollinator insects, including bee and butterfly species are vital to the production of many agricultural crops production and in addition, to native plant species. Declining pollinator species populations can have a direct impact on pollination rates, crop yield and production of food.  The Cape Atlantic Conservation District sought funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant Program. to expand or enhance pollinator  populations and habitat areas on farms by utilizing wildflower mixes in compost filter socks. This habitat can be readily installed in a diversity of land uses/habitats with minimal land disturbance.  The project aimed to expand or enhance habitat areas and lengthen the season for pollinator species in southern New Jersey where populations have been in decline. While compost filter socks have been used for a variety of sediment or pollution control measures, the use for pollinator habitat was the central innovative approach.
GIS Farm Location Maps

The farms selected for installation this conservation practice were required to meet the following criteria. First, all had to contain one or more certain crops such as blueberries, cranberries, beach plum, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers or other crops dependent upon pollinators for production. In addition, all farmers had to be eligible to qualify for the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). District staff met with NRCS Vineland and Columbus Field Offices to determine eligible farmers to participate in the program. In addition to targeting specific crop types, the project was seeking to include farms from across the Outer Coastal Province of New Jersey. Ten (10) farms were chosen to participate in the project, two (2) farms in Cape May County, seven (7) farms in Atlantic County and one (1) farm in Burlington County.
Farm Location Descriptions

Each of the farms was characterized in terms of acres, soils series, production of crops and adjacent biotic community. It is recognized that documented plants in the biotic community surrounding the study area could impact the wildflower stand and consequently its use by pollinators. The farms were assigned a location designation that was utilized throughout the site documentation visits and to help indicate the documentation stations for each vegetated compost filter socks. This designation was used in cataloging all photographs taken during both the plant documentation visits and during pollinator documentation visits.
Specifications & Methodology

The use of a compost filter sock is a method of establishing a specialized vegetative cover.  It is a method outlined in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Management Practice manual and is a practice that has been utilized extensively for establishing a vegetative cover with temporary and permanent vegetative grass mixes.  Compost filter socks are multi-filament mesh tubes of designed material that are filled with compost material suitable for establishing a seedbed for wildflowers and grasses.  A wildflower seed was incorporated into the compost which was then mechanically inserted into the sock. The sock was laid directly on the ground surface without the need to disturb or alter the existing soil surface conditions. The seed mix was customized for particular crops at the specific location and for the targeted pollinator species to extend the period in which a nectar source was available for pollinators.  The socks were applied with little site preparation effort.  Since the socks are flexible and adhere to the contour of the land, installation was workable for every location.  The compost filter socks were constructed offsite and placed on pallets for delivery to the farm.
Click image above for detailed information about the project.

Project Progression

Both plant growth and vigor was documented, tracking the progress of habitat development in areas of the vegetated filter socks.  Each site was documented monthly during the growing season for a total of twelve (12) follow-up visits.  Each visit consisted of data collection and observations.
Five monitoring stations locations were identified for each farm and were assigned a unique alphanumeric combination for consistency and ease of collecting data.  Station locations were chosen to give an overall representation of the vegetated filter sock.  A 1 foot by 1 foot square of the vegetated filter sock was used for collecting data on the selected wildflower development.  A survey tool of PVC tubing was constructed and utilized to frame the area of evaluation.  Each station was photo documented in addition to collecting data.  A minimum of 4 photos was taken, one of the overall sock and 3 at each station.  At each station, a photo was taken in both directions from the station, either north and south or east and west, depending on the orientation of the sock.   The PVC survey tool was placed over the vegetated sock in close proximity of the station, where a metal ruler, reading in metric units, was placed across the top.  A vertical  photo was taken of the PVC square, documenting plant growth within the monitoring area.  
Flora & Fauna Photo Journal
This material is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 69-3A75-13-191.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations  expressed  in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.