Pollination Mapper BETA Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does Pollination Mapper BETA do?
  2. How does Pollination Mapper BETA work? 
  3. What crops are included in Pollination Mapper BETA
  4. Who might want to use Pollination Mapper BETA?
  5. How pollinator dependent is my crop according to Pollination Mapper BETA?
  6. Can I save multiple projects?
  7. My crop doesn’t show up when I draw my farm.  What should I do?
  8. Why can’t I add crop fields or pollinator plantings smaller than 100 x 100 ft in size?
  9. My crop disappeared! What happened? What should I do?
  10. Has Pollination Mapper BETA been tested?
  11. Can I use Pollination Mapper BETA on my mobile device?
  12. Does Pollination Mapper BETA work with all web browsers?
  13. Will there be updates to Pollination Mapper BETA?
  14. I want to find out more about how to support crop pollination, where can I go?

1.  What does Pollination Mapper BETA do?

Pollination Mapper BETA is an on-line decision support tool that provides insight and guidance to specialty crop growers, their advisors, and other land managers making pollination management decisions. Pollination Mapper BETA allows users to map out a crop field of interest on an aerial image, create different management scenarios, such as the honey bee hive stocking rate or the addition of pollinator plantings (e.g. wildflowers, hedgerows, or mix of wildflowers and hedgerows), and then compare predicted relative yield outcomes.  It first provides insights about the potential of the landscape surrounding the selected crop field to provide wild bee pollination Users can then evaluate how different pollination management decisions affect crop yield. Researchers are actively working to improve the tool’s ability to predict relative yield. The validated tool will be released at a later date.

2.  How does Pollination Mapper BETA work?

This tool uses cropland satellite data from the 2014 (USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service), crop pollination data, information about how land cover affects populations of wild and managed bees, and mathematical models to predict crop yield. The tool first evaluates the quality of habitat supporting wild bees around the crop and uses that information to develop an index of visitation to the target crop field. The tool evaluates the land within 3 km (~1.8 miles) from the field of interest to estimate the quality of the landscape for providing floral and nesting resources, or food and shelter, for wild bees. Resources closer to the field of interest have more influence in the model than fields farther away from the field of interest. The estimates of the nesting and floral resources provided by different land cover types come from wild bee experts surveyed for this project. The methods used are described in Koh et al. (2016). The tool uses this habitat quality information to predict the abundance of wild bees available for crop pollination. The tool combines this wild bee visitation index with honey bee stocking rate information and the pollinator dependence of the crop to predict the relative yield (e.g. % of potential maximum yield) for that crop. Honey bee stocking rates are based on recommendations from Crop Pollination by Bees. To read about the inner workings of the model in more detail visit the pollination module of the Natural Capital Project’s Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (inVEST) model here. For more information about the NASS cropland data layer click here.

3.  What crops are included in Pollination Mapper BETA?

The tool supports yield calculations for the pollinator dependent crops listed in the map legend. However, currently, only the following crops can be used to correct the Current Crop Map: almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, pumpkins, raspberries, and watermelons. Therefore, the tool is most useful for technical advisors of these crops. For cherries, we currently include stocking rates and pollination requirements for sweet cherries, not tart cherries. (Click here to see the full list of crops and how they relate to the USDA NASS Cropland Data Layer.)

4.  Who might want to use Pollination Mapper BETA?

Extension agents, conservation practitioners and others who work with US specialty crop growers of almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, pumpkins, raspberries, or watermelons can use this tool to inform pollination management recommendations. Interested specialty crop growers of almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, pumpkins, raspberries, or watermelons can use this tool to explore the implications of different pollination management decisions for their farm’s expected yield.

5.  How pollinator dependent is my crop according to Pollination Mapper BETA?

Pollination Mapper BETA uses pollinator dependency categories based on a publication by Klein et al. 2007. Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 274: 303-313. You can access the full scientific paper here and then look at Appendix 2 “Crop selection pathway to evaluate the levels of dependence on animal pollination for crops important in the global market” or you can download that appendix by clicking here. Note: crop varieties can differ in how dependent they are on crop pollinators.

6.  Can I save multiple projects?

Yes! However, you will first need to create a personal account and log in to Pollination Mapper to save projects. Your account will be secure and no personal information will be shared with any other organizations.

7.   My crop doesn’t show up when I draw my farm. What should I do?

The underlying Crop Data Layer is not always accurate with what it has listed for each farm. So, you can correct it. Use the crops in the “Land Cover” drop down menu to draw in your crop field or block. Note that the tool will not accept fields smaller than 100 ft by 100 ft. If you have your projects saved in your account (see above), this information will be saved for next time.

8.   Why can’t I add crop fields or pollinator plantings smaller than 100 x 100 ft in size?

The underlying crop data in Pollination Mapper is based on the USDA NASS Cropland Data Layer. USDA NASS generates this data by using satellite imagery, remote sensing tools, and the USGS National Landcover Database. The resolution of is 30 meters x 30 meters (around 100ft x 100ft) so this is the smallest scale that the system can make calculations for. Each cell is categorized as  apple, almond, wildflower planting, etc. based on the corresponding satellite imagery, or the additional information provided by the user..               

When you draw a crop field or pollinator planting area using the Land Cover or Pollinator Planting tools, any individual map cell your drawing overlaps will change to the new crop or pollinator planting type you’ve specified. New modifications will overwrite the base map as well as any previous drawings they overlap.

9.   My crop disappeared! What happened? What should I do?

The crop was probably drawn either completely or partially over by a pollinator planting or other crop. If a drawing overlaps any part of the underlying cell or pixel, it will change what the cell represents. Your most recent drawing or modification will replace anything that was previously categorized or drawn. A disappearing crop is more likely to occur when the area of the crop field is small and only represented by one or a few cells. If all of the crop cells get recategorized as something else (e.g. wildflower planting, apple, blueberry, etc.) then that crop will no longer appear on the yield graph.  To fix this, delete the pollinator planting and redraw to avoid drawing over the crop pixel.

10.  Has Pollination Mapper BETA been tested?

Pollination Mapper BETA is currently being tested to improve the tool’s predictions of relative yield. The part of the model behind Pollination Mapper BETA that links habitat quality to visitation was first tested in 2009. The researchers who built the model compared the model’s predicted index of wild bee visitation and pollen deposition against measured wild bee abundance in Costa Rica, California and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States (e.g. New Jersey and Pennsylvania), later testing the model globally in 2013. Also in 2013 the model was expanded to predict yield increases due to wild bee pollination and the predictions tested against known yield increases due to pollination. Most recently, in 2016, the model was used to predict bee abundance across the United States with input from expert opinion. These predictions were compared against the known bee abundance at 180 study sites in crop fields and semi-natural habitat across the US (e.g. in California, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and an additional 343 sites along roadways in 40 states to validate the model predictions.  

Despite these previous model testing efforts, we are continuing to validate the model specifically with Pollination Mapper in mind. We are comparing model predictions to field observations on specific farms, and will use the results to continually update and fine-tune the model. Field data include observations of bee abundances and crop yields, both before and after habitat enhancements are established.

In 2017 the researchers who originally developed the model incorporated honey bees into the model and built Pollination Mapper BETA to support specialty crop growers in making pollination management decisions. Part of this process included building the relationships between habitat enhancements and yield and honey bee stocking rates and yield. Do you want to help test Pollination Mapper BETA? If so, contact us at PollinationMapper@gmail.com.

11.  Can I use Pollination Mapper BETA on my mobile device?

Pollination Mapper BETA is intended for use with desktop and tablet browsers and is designed to work on both iOS and Android tablets. On tablets, it is best used in landscape mode, where there is more space for the map and sidebar. It is not supported for use on smaller mobile devices.

12. Does Pollination Mapper BETA work with all web browsers?

Pollination Mapper BETA works well with the most up to date versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer. However, if you are working from a government computer we recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

13. Will there be updates to Pollination Mapper BETA?

Updates will be dependent on grant funds. If you’d like notifications about Pollination Mapper BETA fill out this formWe are actively pursuing additional funding to continue to improve the functionality of this tool. If you are interested in supporting and/or providing funds to improve Pollination Mapper, email us at PollinationMapper@gmail.com.

14. I want to find out more about how to support crop pollination, where can I go?

Visit the Integrated Crop Pollination resources for growers page and talk with your local extension agent and Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Additional resources can be found at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation pollinator conservation resource center.