Monarch Challenge

The monarch butterfly has been declining in numbers over the past couple of decades. This is due in part to a decrease of native plants, including milkweed, which is the only plant that monarch caterpillars feed on.

In 2016, BASF launched a program called the “Monarch Challenge”, which partners with farmers to help save the butterfly.

Chip Shilling is the company’s sustainability strategy manager. He says farmers are catching on to the importance of having milkweed on their land.

"We think about 2016 Commodity Classic, a lot of the conversations with the farmers were, ‘you want me to plant what?’ We were out at Commodity Classic this year and a lot of it was farmers asking, ‘how can we help?’, he says. "So, we’ve seen a lot of mindset shift in from farmers who view it just as a weed, to this is something I can control, do on my farm, and be proactive about it."

Shilling says the milkweed is being planted outside of field boundaries such as ditches, next to the barn, grassy areas – places that you don’t have to mow and can leave in its natural state.

The best milkweed species to plant is native to your area.

"We created a resource that’s really cool data out of the USDA plants database," he says. "That website is monarchmilkweedhabitat.com. Click on your state, you can find out what’s native in your state not only milkweed, but also other native plants that provide the fuel for the adult monarchs."

So far, he says about 2,200 farmers have signed up and the company has shipped out 40,000 free milkweed plants. They plan to do another milkweed giveaway next spring.

Most Recent Poll

Will you have enough on-farm storage for harvest?

I just want to see the responses
45% (25 votes)
Yes
38% (21 votes)
No, it’s going to be a bin-buster
7% (4 votes)
Maybe, depending on yields
5% (3 votes)
No, I am looking at new bins or temporary storage
4% (2 votes)
Total votes: 55
Thank you for voting.