Farmers and landowners who want to increase pollinator habitat while also improving water quality should consider the benefits of saturated riparian buffers enhanced with native wildflowers.

Establishing pollinator habitat within riparian zones, where the agricultural value is lower and where the conservation and wildlife benefits are likely high, can be a win-win.

“Landowners looking for the combined benefits of native habitat and water quality can capture both by establishing pollinator-friendly species on top of saturated buffers,” said Dana Schweitzer, program coordinator with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium at Iowa State University.

“Establishing and Managing Pollinator Habitat on Saturated Riparian Buffers” is a four-page publication available on the ISU Extension Store.

Seeding a new or existing buffer with native perennials takes planning, and Schweitzer said landowners should plan at least a year ahead of putting native seed in the soil. 

Schweitzer said plots are usually fairly small, ranging from 1-3 acres, and require some maintenance every three to five years to sustain a diverse native plant community.