JOHNSTON, IOWA – As Iowa farmers are wrapping up the annual harvest, plant employees at Western Iowa Energy biodiesel plant have already started planting for next year.
Plant employees recently conducted a dormant seeding of Western Iowa Energy’s Monarch Fueling Station. The seeding included native grasses and other plants that attract pollinators, including milkweed, the only plant monarch butterflies can lay their eggs on.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s Habitat Establishment Coordinator Kevin Reynolds said many of the plants will spend their first growing season developing a root system, but a few of the species will grow pretty fast.
“Once the habitat establishes itself, Western Iowa Energy will be able to make a meaningful impact to help grow and sustain Iowa’s monarch butterfly population,” Reynolds said. “These pollinators need habitat and Iowa’s biofuels plants are leading the way in finding creative ways to expand the number of monarch butterfly habitat acres across the state.”
Western Iowa Energy’s Monarch Fueling Station was established this spring with the help of Reynolds. Earlier this year plant employees focused on eliminating non-native grasses from the four-acre plot to prepare for the seeding.
“We are excited to take the next step toward providing much-needed habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators,” said Kevin Bieret, operations manager of Western Iowa Energy. “We look forward to seeing the growth in the habitat come spring.”
The Monarch Fueling Station Project was established by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) in partnership with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium in December 2017. It is a program to help Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel plants establish monarch habitat on plant grounds. To learn more about the IRFA Monarch Fueling Station Project, contact IRFA at info@IowaRFA.org or 515-252-6249.