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Operation Pollinator wildflowers in bloom

A plot full of blooming wildflowers adds a colorful element to a field near Park Rapids. R.D. Offutt planted wildflowers as part of the Operation Pollinator program. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)1 / 2
Colorful wildflowers are in full bloom in this plot in Todd Township south of Park Rapids. (Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)2 / 2

Large plots of wildflowers are blooming on plots owned by R.D. Offutt Company, creating colorful buffer zones between roadways and potato fields.

In 2015, R.D. Offutt Co. planted a total of 600 acres of wildflower seeds throughout northern Minnesota in Park Rapids, Wadena and Perham on several different plots in an effort to attract pollinators such as honeybees and butterflies as part of Operation Pollinator.

Operation Pollinator is an international biodiversity program, initiated by Syngenta, to increase the number of pollinating insects on commercial farms by creating habitats specifically tailored to the local conditions and native insects.

Syngenta is a Swiss company that specializes in producing agri-chemicals and seeds, they provided R.D. Offutt Co. with targeted seed mixtures designed to benefit pollinators.

According to Wayne Warmbold, regional manager of R.D. Offutt Farms, they have now planted 675 acres with flowers in the last three years in the corners of R.D.Offutt Co.'s potato fields throughout the county.

"Every year we try to plant some more, we do have some that are still planted from the first year," he said, adding that after two years the flowers began to get choked out by grasses. "They do come back but the first years are always the best."

He said he sees a lot of pollinator activity throughout the flowers and they will continue to bloom a variety of flowers throughout the season and later in the fall.

"It's a paradise for bees," Warmbold said. "It gives them habitat outside of our farming area."

Warmbold added that the completion of projects like Operation Pollinator is one of the reasons he likes working for R.D. Offutt Co.

"I know we get a lot of beating up about having to clear land but they also put back a lot," he said. "That's why I really do like working here. It's nice to work here and be proud of the fact that they're not a company that's just taking and taking."

Operation Pollinator was a collaborative effort between R.D. Offutt Co., Syngenta, Pheasants Forever and Applewood Seed Company.

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