Contributors to this thread:
Micro Habitat Project
Regular Bowsite readers will probably recognize my obsession with habitat management. I participate regulary in threads like 'Food Plot Pictures...' etc. My wife, Robin, and I own a 120 acre farm in MO, named Habitat for Wildlife Farm, that we manage for quality wildlife through working with native and non-native plant varieties. This grew from my passion for the outdoors that began as early as I can remember. We built our current home in 2002 on 3 acres that is part of a development called Walnut Creek Estates. It is located in MI CO KS. The development has a 7 acre pond that is centrally located with a couple of drainage creeks running into it. We are on a drainage creek that backs up to the lake. The surrounding ground is fairly hilly, and was used for cattle pasture. This means other than a few walnuts the devlopment was named after, the trees consisted mainly of hedge, locust, cedar, elm (most dead or dying due to dutch elm disease) and some hackberry with absolutely no oaks or maples. Wildlife observed was minimal when we first purchased the land in 2000.
We planted many oaks on our land and the community property as well as a 2/3 acre food plot (currently clover) that backs up to the creek on the north end of our property, the house being at the south end with a small pole barn half way down the property. Two years ago I planted a clover plot on the community ground next to the lake, and frost seeded white clover on about 1 mile of the 5 miles of horse trails that run through the woods.
The wildlife observed including deer and turkey has increased significantly, with the neighborhood and my immediate neighbors being treated to watching 3 fawns and their moms on a regular basis. This has been such fun that Robin is working with me to take 1/2 of our property and turn it into a wildlife sanctuary. We are letting the creek vegetation grow back naturally and will set it back every few years or so with a brush hog. The clover plot will be planted each year but next to it we have just cleared several cedars and sprayed non-selective herbicide on her once beautiful lawn. This area will be planted in native grasses with a short variety next to our lawn and taller varieties next to the food plot. The cedars were removed to increase sunlight available to the NG. We will keep the oaks trimmed up for the same purpose and create an oak savannah as cover. This habitat should be able to keep deer as one doe and her two fawns are bedding along the creek, and in fact some have been born there for the last 3 years. I also had turkeys hatch there last year.
This is unbelievable as there are houses on every 3-10 acres. I believe this is the future of conservation-private LOs creating additional habitat even in small areas. Done properly to pay attention to fragmentation, I believe this will be successful. What an education for our neighbor's kids who have all moved here from the city. I wanted to share some pictures so you can get a feel for the property including the common areas. My intentions are to keep you updated if there is an interest. The grass is dying where I sprayed and I will install a simple fence to make a distinct separation from our yard to the sanctuary. I can not plant the NG until next year, but will disk and plant something this fall just to start working with the ground.
Simply put, we are excited about doing this and I needed to share it with you. Already neighbors are asking questions and seem interested in at least the possibilities. Yes, there will be downsides like more coons, but the NG will have plenty of forbs planted to attract more birds and butterflys etc.
I'll try to explain each picture to follow and update regulary. Thanks.
The next 2 pictures are looking from the south end of this project and the grass that was sprayed. This gives you an idea of the clover plot size as well as the woods. Not only am I eliminating an additional acre of mowing, the Greens will love our environmentally sound project! This picture is from the edge of my barn looking north, and half of this lawn was sprayed with herbicide and will end up in NG.
This gives you an idea of the width as you can look from the west side and see the cedars I cut down and burned already.
This picture looks down from the house to the barn, with about the same distance from the barn to the plot. Half of that distance is what will be converted to an oak savannah with NG.
This is a picture of the herbicide being sprayed on the far western edge of my property. You can see the pond in the back ground with the path I keep mowed to it from our property. Just to the right of that mowed path is the 1 acre plus clover plot planted on the commons area which runs into my plot. Deer are out in this field daily.
I love reading your habitat management posts. Keep posting please.
This needs to stay on the first page too
I've said it before, and I'm saying it again, WE NEED A FORUM FOR HABITAT AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT!
The grass sprayed last Monday, a week ago, is completely dead. The remaining area sprayed Sunday is on the way. I did it in 2 steps as I was experimenting with different chemicals, both non-selective herbicide at 1.5%. I also set the first post tonight for the split rail fence. I will keep this updated with pictures as we progress.
We are naming it the FRAEBIN Wildlife Sanctuary which stands for Frank & Robin. There is a growing interest in the neighborhood that hopefully will turn into a huge benefit for the wildlife and the environment.
My wife and I got up early this morning and managed to get the west side of the border between the lawn and sanctuary finished with the split rail fence. It took us only 2 hours, and this being our anniversary we quit to enjoy the rest of the day. Here's a few pictures so you can see the fence, state of the grass kill, and how many cedars were removed as the picture over the burn pit is the same angle as picture one before any work started.
This first picture is just starting to set the posts after the holes were augered with the tractor.
This gives an idea of the grass kill and how the fence is laid up to the big group of cedars. I will fiinsh from the cedars to the east side of the property hopefully sometime within the next 7 days.
This last photo is the same as the first and gives you an idea of how this will look from the home. Removing the cedars really opened up the area and should allow plenty of light for the NG.
Next to the fence will be shorter varieties-little blue, side oats gramma and some broomsedge for winter structure to keep the grasses more upright.
From this area to the food plot I will plant taller varieties-big blue, switch, indian and a small amount of little blue. All of the grasses will have a custom blend of forbs.
One small area seems to hold more moisture and I may plant this in eastern gamma, but I'll wait and see.
My wife and I are both getting very excited about the potential for this!
I married a real trooper! The wife and I finished the fence this morning. Here is a picture that gives you an idea of the full extent of this habitat. I am on the neighbor's dam looking directly west. You can see the corner of my barn and the house is up the hill to the left. The clover is the green along the wood line on the right side. All of the dead grass is where the native grass will be planted up to the fence. You can see the amount of trees that will be in this area, mostly oaks that I planted in '02 but I left a couple of wild cherry and redbuds for Robin. I have some touch up herbicide spraying to do, and I will do that hopefully later today. Not expecting a great kill as the temps are going to hit 90 and above over the next few days.
The fun stuff is left-disking and planting. I will keep you posted on this as well. Thanks.
I thought of you LW at Sunday dinner yesterday. I was talking to my cousin, who buys articles from people for Sun publications in KC. He was telling me that they have all sorts of different sections, and told me that since I'm an attorney, if I ever want to write a legal article, he would buy it.
Then we got to talking about hunting, fishing, etc. and he said they do have an outdoor living section. And I thought, "That guy from bowsite should write a habitat management article and submit it."
Seriously, I think you would reach a lot of people and pass on some good education if you wrote a series of articles on your urban habitat management project. Think about it. PM me if you want more info.
Bake, thank you and PM sent.
This was taken today and shows the complete kill of grass. Both areas are completely dead. I am now waiting for a little moisture so I can work the ground. As soon as possible after August 1st I will plant a brassica/oats combination to entice more deer to feel comfortable in the general area. Right now the plan is to plant corn where the clover is at next spring at the same time I plant the NG where the lawn was killed.
We received a half inch of rain yesterday, so I was able to burn the grass and attempt to disk. The ground was still too hard. I also cut the clover and trimmed around the trees. This picture gives a good idea of what I am working with.
I removed 7 more cedars on the far west edge of the area, and I disked several times today. This is a picture after disking, but before I drug it with a harrow a couple of times. I have a smooth seed bed now. I will fertilize and seed within the next couple of days. I was able to disk because we received 2.75" of rain over 8 hours on July 30. Absolutely no run-off as it drizzled the entire time!
August 3rd-I went out at 6AM to finish this project-at least the fall portion until I plant the NG next spring. I broadcasted 100 lbs of balanced ferilizer since it was just sitting around the barn. I then broadcast 50 lbs of oats, the feed type, not seed. (The feed type works great for this type of application and is much less expensive.) I drug these with a harrow to work the seed down 1-1.5". I then broadcasted the brassica mixtures from small bags of commercial product I wanted to test. The area closest to the fence has Bio-Logic's MaxiMum, and the area closest to the clover has Hunter's Specialty's Vita Rack. This was a total of 4.25lbs of seed. I am not expecting great results since I did not use much fertilizer; however, this area was lawn and was well maintained with 3-4 applications of fertilizer each year since 2002.
The final step was to culti-pack which is what I am doing in the picture. I also burned the freshly cut cedars, and being that it hit nearly 100 on the old thermometer today, I'm sitting here with a tall glass of lemonade and Absolute Citron. I will attach a picture when it comes, or doesn't come up so you can all laugh (or cry if you've been there!). Thanks.
The oats/brassica combination started to come up after we finally received enough rain. After first planting we received .5"; however, it was bone dry for 17 days after that and we lost some. We received nearly 3" this week and the plot exploded with the deer really hammering the oats, but the brassica probably will be left alone until the sugar is present after some frosts. I'll try and post a picture of the entire plot after a few more days of growth.
Here is a full picture of the brassica/oats combination with the clover/chicory field on the right. This gives you an idea of how much it has grown.
It rained nearly 5" last week and everything is lush. Here is a close-up of the clover which was mowed, fertilized with 175lbs of triple 12 and 500lbs of pelletized lime to keep the ph at 7 in preparation for the corn next year.
The brassica grew to well over 1' with so much moisture, but the last few days it has hit 80 degrees and the biggest leafs actually fell over from so much weight. The deer are not hitting this at all since it has too much fiber content.
This turnip bulb is slightly smaller than the average size right now, so they should be good in another month.
This thread and the Original Poster is proof that hunters can be, and in alot of case ARE, the ultimate conservationists. Thanks you LW!
Keep it coming Frank,very informative....
I absolutely think hunters need to emphasize this aspect more than we do with the general public. There are so many on this site that perform habitat work, I am convinced that all wildlife would suffer if it were not for the hunter/conservationists.
I have been a member for 3 years. I just hope they don't become over-commercialized in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Here is the size of the brassica/oats plants on 9/26.
Here is the average size turnip bulb. Care must be taken so as not to over-seed turnips too thick. If there is room between them when planting, you will get larger leaves and bulbs. These were planted 8/3, so they are not fully grown yet.
A shot of the plot today. The clover has thickened since the last mowing and really brought the ragweed and other weeds under control.
A close-up of the clover.
A close-up of the clover area where I planted a touch of chicory which is the dandelion looking plants.
Here is a picture of the acorns from the oak trees that are on the plot. God willing, in ten years plus this should be a wildlife haven.
Great thread!!! I'm curious about the species of oak trees you have? In the last few years I have leaned towards tree plantings from food plots.
I thought they were white oaks, but they may be burrs and the nuts are just smaller due to the young age of the trees. The deer are eating them though! Thank you!
My morning hunt was with my good friend Dave who is the nursery manager here locally. Finally got him to look at the trees with these mature nuts and he said they are definitely swamp white oaks. Since we brought some burr oak nuts back from the farm I hunt to plant on the property, he was able to clearly point out the differences.
Nice tractor setup. Good looking plots.
Thanks, I love to install habitat. The tractors have been a blessing, though some of my friends tell me they are not Deere's.
I reply with "Blue in the field and Green in my wallet!"
Time for another up date. The next few pictures are the size of the turnip bulbs on average, with the fence used as a reference. Pictures taken 10/14, a rainy day after 2 weeks with no moisture.
This is the average plant size.
This is the one acre clover plot that I planted on the commons area mentioned early on in this thread. This is the second year and I only mowed 2X and never fertilized this year. This attaches to my plot on the far NW corner of my property.
This is the view from the far NW corner of my property mentioned above from where it meets the clover on the commons ground. This is looking SE.
This picture is one of the horse trails I mentioned earlier this summer. I frost seeded about a mile of the horse trails in heavy timber. Sunlight exposure is at minimum due to the narrow path and tall trees. No fertilizers or lime added. I used a white clover (ladino) because whites are shade tolerant unlike the reds which require more sun and generally are not as attractive to deer because of their longer stems higher in lignin.
I think this is a simple project that most property owners could use to boost their food production and increase the attractiveness of their properties. Most properties I have looked at used for recreational hunting have vehicle paths on them. This is worth a try, and obviously results will vary based on soil conditions, i.e. soil profiles, ph levels, traffic frequency etc...
I agree with your general tenets regarding "small" habitat improvements. One the best bucks I've ever seen was taken on 11 acres bordering a subdivision. An absolute pig and this was in a "dog county" that is notorious for horrible buck management practices.
If this is your cup of tea, one does not need a huge block of land to benefit wildlife and/or kill a few critters.
Thanks. Nobody will be hunting this actually. I'm an eternal optimist, and I think the value of projects like this lie mostly with educating the public, especially that 80% of the public that does not hunt.
Obviously though you are correct in that you can have a "good" and "involved" hunt by undertaking management on smaller parcels. With leasing and the challenges that many city hunters face, looking for that golden parcel may be a little easier than some folks currently believe.
The following pictures are from just last night. I wanted to share what a small project is capable of attracting.
The plot has attracted so many more rabbits and other rodents that a noticeable increase in yotes has also happened.
The following pictures were taken today, November 15th. This is after a couple of hard freezes, yet the plot is still a heavily used food source and creating all kinds of rut activity.
Look at the size of these turnips, the weather has been wetter than normal.
By taking advantage of the natural travel corridors on surrounding property, this small parcel has been holding does/fawns all year. Naturally, the rut activity follows. There are 7 active scrapes on this small plot!
Here's 3 years of watering all for nothing!
The neighbor's boys thought we got another dog as they have been seeing this guy or a relative with regularity.
Hopefully this information opens the mind to the fact that an individual doesn't need an abundance of land to have a quality outdoor experience. Think what even a small hunting parcel can be transformed into with a little work!
This is what she looks like on January 3, 2009. I have cleaned up some dead and unwanted trees and stacked them into a burn pile. The oats is all dead, and only turnip bulbs remain as a food source, but the deer have not even hit them yet, and probably won't. It has been nearly 2 weeks since the last visit by any deer. The clover is all brown now also. I have pulled soil samples and will root cut along the edge of the clover field by the woods. If everything goes OK, we should plant WSNG in the area the oats/turnips were in, and corn or soybeans where the clover was at. Corn is what the wife wants and that is fine as I can plant corn and WSNG in April, so in one day I should be able to do all of this. I'll keep you posted.
Great job. Your work just proves that you don't have to have large acreages to provide quality wildlife habitat. I'm sure the QDMA magazine is always looking for good articles, maybe you should talk to them and submit your pictures. I know you determined that your oaks were white oaks, don't the burr oaks take 20-25 years to produce nuts? I have some burr oaks on my property and they seem to be the lowest preference for deer but a high preference for squirrels.
Danny Cary Pres. Green Country OK Branch of QDMA
Yes, my oaks are mainly whites, but I did plant some Burrs (white family also). I am amazed that the whites have already started to produce, but I do fertilize 2X per year and water for the first 3 years.
I have raved about QDMA on many threads here, even very recently. However, I was slightly disappointed in them this year. A couple of years ago I contacted my area's representative and asked if I could start a local chapter. They were not interested at that time, but this year another individual(s) were given permission to start a chapter. I was asked to participate, though I declined. The person sending me an invitation, and wanting to start the chapter is very nice, but IMO lacked any measureable experience. The magazine and other material available from them is first rate, but still, this episode has caused me to reconsider my involvement. I'm not so sure I believe in Quality Deer Management as much as I believe in Quality Habitat Management. I may also be paranoid, but if you look at when I first initiated this thread, I had never heard of the term "Micro Habitat" before that. I was kind of proud of it actually. I noticed a column in their most recent monthly magazine used these words. Maybe I wasn't as original as I thought, so I probably have little to add that would be ground breaking for them.
first class all the way, nice to see that level of dedication.
What type of Brassica did you plant? We planeted some and the tops got big, but produced very little bulbs. Maybe I planted them too thick?
It was purple-top turnips and rape. Turnips are in the brassica family and produce a nice bulb; however, rape, also in the brassica family, produces a tube root. All brassicas do not have bulbs, so it was probably just the type you planted. Soil fertility, timing, and moisture will obviously play a big role also.
Since the end of January I have disced 2X and sub-soiled the area where the crops will be planted. I sub-soiled to maximum dept along the creek to cut the roots out of the plot area. I will till the crop area next and put any nutrients down that the test call for. Just can't wait until I can plant it.
Can't wait to see this year's journal. Thanks LW!!!
Thank you TX Trapper. Here is a picture of sub-soiling in cold weather yesterday. You know a guy's got to love it to get out there in the cold!
An interesting note. This summer there were so many more rabbits that the coyotes were visiting the plot daily. The yotes are still showing up on the camera almost nightly. They are always near the creek where the only vegetation is left. The plot has been disced under, but the rabbits are still around as the bark on small trees is damaged near the ground. This camera is aimed at a mineral lick and the yotes are urinating in it and dumping in it frequently. What's that all about? I also have regular pictures of a squirrel and an oppossum in the lick!
This is the morning of February 26, 2009. I did one last discing this AM. This picture, like the rest, is from the dam of the neighbor's pond looking directly west. The field runs all the way over to the far cedars, which is where the woods end on the right. You can see the 7 acre community pond in the far back ground. The upper left, near the fence is where the NG and forbs will be planted in April. Discing the oats and brassicas under in this area really broke the soil up and it crumbles now in your hand. I hope this will give the NG a good start and I will see a little above ground growth before fall. The area on the right will be planted in sweet corn at the same time the NG is planted. The entire area will be about equally split between the NG and crops when measured by surface area. The corn will be the rotating food plot area with the NG left for cover. I just love freshly turned dirt!
The soil sample came back a month ago and the ph was at 6.9! The report called for 70 lbs. of nitrogen per acre to reach a yield of 120 bushels of corn per acre. I added 100 lbs of 47-0-0 on the approximately one half acre that will be planted in corn and disced it in today. If you remember, I frost seeded ladino clover in the woods along the creek, and on Tuesday of this past week I noticed the seedlings pushing through the ground. I attached a picture so you know what to look for. It is the plants with 2 leaves directly opposite of each other.
I will spray a non-selective herbicide as soon as things are green enough to kill off, and then plant the corn on the lower half and the WSNG on the upper half. I will probably use a drag harrow to smooth the soil and will not disc again as the soil has been cut very deep. I will cultipack then drill the corn in and broadcast the WSNG, and cultipack the WSNG again. I will plant some rye grain with the WSNG for soil stabilization and will put that seed down right before I drag the soil. I'll keep you posted.
Should the ladino clover be planted in the autumn only or can a plot be started in the Spring?
Do you take multiple samples of the soil to determine proper pH? I'm guessing that different plants require different soil pH - will the proper pH range information be supplied along with the seed?
Adding oak trees to the plot is great for attracting more wildlife, but aren't you creating a future plot with shade? Or is that part and parcel of eventually having a mature area with less forb/crop and a bit more cover? iowaPete
Frank: How long did it take to get your oak trees to start producing acorns?
Did the deer ever hammer the turnips during the winter?
Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you guys, I didn't notice the questions until I was PMed!
Pete, clover in your state can be planted spring or fall, but I have had my best luck in the fall. Clover grows more underneath the ground first, so I have had better luck with weed and grass control by planting in the fall and allowing the clover to get established. If planted in the spring, you still have plenty of time, go to Imperial Whitetail's website and they will show spring and fall planting dates by geographic area. If you get a dry summer, the clover can suffer as a spring planting has not usually allowed enough time to get the clover established, thus allowing invasive plants an opportunity to come in. With clover, the closer to nuetral (7) on the ph scale the better. Anything above 6 with proper fertilizer will work, but getting it over 6.5 seems to enhance the performance and make it taste better to the deer IMO. To get a soil sample, take at least 8-10 core samples from about 4" down, mix them together and send some of this mixture in for a test. If planting for a fall attractant, I would plant this spring and just frost seed next winter. If planting in the fall and wanting to use it for hunting, plant oats or wheat or rye along with it as the clover will not be tall enough usually for the deer to feed.
Tom, 5 years only, but I fertilizer spring and fall and kept them watered for the first 3 years. They also come from good stock. Obviously they are not producing loads of mast, but enough that the deer did eat them as they came in to munch on the clover.
GBTG, The deer never hit my turnips, they ate the oats and hit the tops of the turnips just a little bit. They never touched the bulbs. I assume there is plenty of food in this area since they came to the plot and didn't eat any. Brassicas certainly live up to their reputation of hit or miss. I have a client within 10 miles of this plot who swears by them, go figure!
I forgot to add about the trees and shade. Yes, I am trying to creat an oak savannah, not just a field of prairie grass. Even quail will benefit from the shade. I will keep the trees trimmed up very high, and as they mature I will begin to eliminate some of them. Hopefully I will live long enough. To me, this will be much prettier than just NG. My small company is closing down and I have sold the idea of habitat management to a large commercial nursery that I have worked with the last 8 years. I always felt this type of work would complement the kind of services and products that a commercial nursery provides, specifically to their clients that own 40-80 acre hobby farms and grow tired of mowing cool season grasses. I will be working with them and it is interesting to see personal preferences. Some of these folks want a straight out prairie, and some like the savannah effect. I guess it is what visually pleases an individual. On my plot, there are no tall trees on the south side of this area, so it receives full sun exposure for most of the day. If I keep the trees trimmed up it should be no problem having a thick stand of NG with some open areas directly under the trees-which should be good actually. Thanks.
I've taken a similar task to heart with my 35 acre farm. I'm learning as I go. I plan on planting a 1-2 acre mixture of clump grass & switch grass along with numerous fruiting trees (persimmon,apple & paw paw). I recently had a friend remove what I considered excess hickory trees to provide openings for cover & open some of the smaller white oaks. I'm working with a 3 acre wood lot trying to improve it as bedding cover.
Do you think autumn olive planted as a screen & bedding cover in an area where I can control its growth is a bad idea? The neighboring farms get hunted hard and I'd like to provide cover for the deer to stay instead of just running through. I'm digging 2 ponds for a constant water source & plan on planting white clover on the trails as you noted above. I'm hoping within the next 5 years its a wildlife haven like yours.Weed control seems to be my biggest problem.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Great thread by the way.
Thanks! First, I have no experience with autumn olive. I would suggest that you contact a PA biologist for their feedback on it, and then let us know please.
I guess I'm different than most about the weeds. Deer, and even turkey needs these. Forbs are one of a deer's preferred food sources, and the seeds from weeds really help the turks, and if you have quail in PA?
I think a lot of folks I have worked with want a nice, neat looking farm. The truth of the matter IMO, is an overgrown, weedy, brushy place is what works best. The TSI and eliminating the hickories is great. The water sources are wonderful also. Opening up the canopy will surprise you how quickly the native vegetation will fill in and provide cover once the sunlight reaches the ground. My cuttings from last winter were very productive in holding turkey and quail, and the deer bedded right up against the downed timber. You are on the right track and thanks for helping nature!
Use some protection with your new fruit trees. Contact plantra.com and set up an account to receive a code that allows you to have a 10% discount. It is worth it, good stuff.
I think you will be amazed at how much the deer will visit and even stay on your place if you make it so much more attractive than surrounding properties. Hunt with caution and try to set aside even a few acres in the center as a sanctuary. Good luck!
I did get both my native grasses and corn for the fraebin sanctuary this week.
The native grasses will be planted with mixtures that will stair step the plants from shorter varieties near the fence to taller varieties along the food plot. The front 1/3 will have aldous little bluestem, el reno sideoats grama, bad river blue grama, and texoka buffalo grass. The back 1/3 will have kjjra kaw big bluestem and osage indian grass with some blackwell switchgrass on both the middle 1/3 and back 1/3. The entire area will be planted will canada wildrye and an assortment of wild flowers including purple prairie clover, illinois bundleflower, maximillian sunflower and partridge pea.
The corn variety is peaches and creame.
I can't wait to get this in the ground. Lord, please quit the rain for 1 week!
After coming back from the farm following a very disappointing turkey hunt, I tilled the area on our property that is the part of fraebin sanctuary that will be planted into corn. I will spread the last of the fertilizer and then drag this and use a drill to plant it.
The area that will be planted in WSNG was sprayed with non-selective herbicide on Friday. I will drag this to scratch the surface. The soil crumbles so it does not need to be tilled again. I will cultipack, seed and cultipack once more. I hope to get both of these done this week, but we are expecting more rain.
The deer are really hitting the lick frequently, which is right off the tilled area along the creek. I need to get a camera up as there is a good size print there as well as several normal to small size ones.
OK, it has been raining about non-stop since the last post. Very heavy rains! I finally planted the WSNG yesterday afternoon, but did not get as good of a bed as I would have liked. I did disk again since the last picture, but the rains had packed the ground again. I pulled my 8' drag harrow to work the ground a little, then broadcasted all of the seed mixed together, then cultipacked. We are expecting more rain today so I had to get this done during the small window of opportunity I had. I had to mix all of the seed, except the Switch Grass wich I broadcasted with a hand seeder. Originally I wanted to plant this with the shorter varieties near the fence and the taller varieties along the plot, however my ATV plug went dead on me about 5 minutes into this, so I was not able to use my Truaxx seed slinger. I quickly attached my 3 point fertilzer spreader and was able to mix everything together and get a good coverage, except in 2 spots which still had standing water. I then rolled this with the cultipacker. I will keep you posted but I am not expecting much above ground growth this year, except for the Canada Wild Rye.
At this point I have lost hope of planting corn in the nicely tilled area in the last picture. This soil is so wet it will not support the weight of a tractor with drill for at least a week to ten days, and we are expecting rain 2-3 times this week alone. I will probably go with beans or milo, I have not decided yet.
I'm in the same boat as you. Daily rain with standing water everwhere I couldn't get into a field if I had to.I plowed the one field but before I could get a disc in there it rained heavily & hasn't stopped.
I did however get my trees planted persimmon,apple & cherry. I've got a bag of switch grass that needs planted but may have missed that window & may have to plant in the fall.
The tree cutting I had done this winter has really increased deer activity with lots of tracks & frequent sightings. I feel like I made the right decisions removing as many trees as I did. I've found several beds near the brush piles I've created & they are really browsing the tops that were left.
I need to take pics & post here. I'm excited for the seasons to come and think it will only get better from here.
Post away please! I don't believe you missed the window for switch grass in PA. I will plant here up through the end of May for WSNG and have good luck. Maybe there is not enough time in PA before your first hard freezes? Ask your local game biologist.
Sounds like you are making great progress. It is amazing how quickly results are observed. Wildlife adapts fast, and makes you realize they know what is going on in their areas.
Well, I did get the corn in today, but I am not expecting great results. The ground was wet and mucky, but with more rain expected, I thought I had better go for it. I used my Sukup Food Plot Planter, which is not highly accurate, but is light enough for a job on soft soil. I should know in short order whether or not I'll have a decent stand, and if it looks spotty, I'll just till it under and plant beans when it dries out sufficiently. Fresh tracks are going through the dirt daily as a deer or two is using the mineral nearby.
Well here is a picture from today. This is taken from the neighbor's pond dam, I'm facing west. The corn came in very spotty as expected and I have lots of weeds/grass as it rained several inches after the pre-emergence was applied. The forbs are coming in nice on the left, and even though they are not visible I have a fair amount that are flowering-and they are native forbs! I am also noticing a surprising amount of very tiny "fountain stems" of native grass. This has me really excited as I am noticing more than usual for the first year. I think the moisture, heavy rate of seeding and having worked the soil last year and this year are all factors that have contributed to enough root growth already that is now allowing some above ground growth to occur.
Even though the corn looks terrible because of all of the invasive plants, the entire plot is attracting wildlife like crazy. Tons of rabbits and song birds with a lot of deer tracks. I will mow the corn down after picking anything that might be worthy, and then spray non-select herbicide sometime at the end of August. I will soil test, work the ground and plant a combination of clover/oats with a hint of chicory. This should be pretty good for next year if the WSNG keeps coming on. I'll keep praying and try to keep you updated with anything noticeable.
Last week we had a very windy thunderstorm, and it up-rooted a 30' tall Wild Cherry tree. I took this opportunity to cut it down and 4 other trees leaving only oaks and 2 Redbuds in the WSNG area. I will trim the oaks up this fall after the nutrients have moved back into their root systems. I must make sure I allow enough sunlight to penetrate for the WSNG. BTW, all of the oaks in the plot have tiny acorns on them!
A little better close-up of mainly the WSNG area.
I mowed the plot on Sunday, July 5th. Here is a picture taken from on top of the tractor so you can have a good idea of the amount of forbs coming in. Mowing "released" the grasses and they are really coming on. I am very surprised at the amount of grasses showing already, and 48 hours after mowing the bluestems had shot new shoots above the mowing height. I want to encourage a greater diversity so mowing will help control some of the forbs. Honestly, it is looking better than expected so far.
Here is a picture of the mowing, and it gives you some idea of the height. I let the plants get too tall really; however, the flowers were so attractive it was difficult to mow them down. Even the picture above does not do it justice. The amount of birds, including hummingbirds and butterflies was just unbelievable.
This picture shows the mowed plot. I also decided to go ahead and cut the lower limbs off now. They are stacked up and will be burned in August. Making sure the plot continues to receive adequate sunlight will be a priority, and some of the oaks may have to be removed in future years. I hope by keeping the lowest limbs clipped off I will be able to keep most, if not all of them. All of the oaks have acorns on them, which might be set back with the trim work I did; however, they should provide a great future food source. I wish I could let everyone see the number of native grass sprouts throughout the plot. I am very excited to put it mildly. I still think this is some of God's best work-prairie plants that is!
Frank,my little frost seed project really worked well this spring.I couldn't believe some of the fields.
I had tried 2 previous years by conventional methods with poor stands.
Where I got good soil contact the clover (ladino) is exceptional.
I mowed at 10 inches this week and put out 0-20-20 as the clover had inoculate when I broadcasted it.
Thanks for the inspiration
Steve, thank you! I think we got a little lucky in our neck of the woods. I also had better than average results frost seeding this past winter. I think the extra moisture explains a lot of it. Glad it is working out well for you-and the wildlife!
I mowed for the second time the 3rd week of July, which has really helped in weed control. We have had a much better year for moisture, and only the last 2 weeks have been really hot. The rain and heat as well as just the time of the year have combined to really help the prairie plants. I am noticing a greater diversity which should definitely help the health and vigor of the stand. Here is a picture of side oats gramma that has flowered. This is great for the first year, and this is not an isolated plant but fairly well represented throughout the entir area. Partrige Peas have had a good year everywhere in this area, and our plot is no exception-that is the yellow flower behind the tall wispy stems of the gramma. (called side-oats because the seed heads usually grow on just one side of the stem.)
Here is a picture of the area today. Notice the corn was mowed down and tilled under. I will plant this in oats/ladino clover in the next several weeks. Even without the food source, deer still frequent the plot. A group checked out the mineral lick which they have been using since 2002. It is refreshened annually.
I believe this is the same family unit that is led by an older doe. I have many pictures all summer, including several fawns. Never a buck picture until after late September. Create the habitat, attract the does, and bucks will come:)
The weather has been just awesome. We now have Big Bluestem seeding, that's the turkey foot looking head in the middle of the picture. Honestly, this is just unbelievable for the first year.
Last Tuesday I planted the plot portion with my 6' drill, and divided the box in half oats and half wheat. I top seed ladino clover with a hint of medium red and then cultipacked. On Wednesday we had .35 inches of rain, with dew every morning since then. Here is the growth just 1 week later, and the clover has all germinated also! We have had a fantastic year in this area for crops!!
The oats/wheat combination is for a cover crop to get the clover started and I want to see what effect each has on the density of the clover next summer.
I have a question pertaining to frost seeding. What if you try this in areas with high turkey populations? Will you have any seed left to germinate? One particular 5 acre bottom on my friends farm was sewed in corn 3 times 2 years ago and they basically didn't get an ear of corn due to the turkeys.
Frost seeding only works with smaller seed like clovers/chicory, at least in my area. Smaller seed does not need to be covered but more than 1/8-1/4", and the freezing/thawing action of early spring/late winter will usually accomplish this.
Corn size seed needs to be covered 1-1.5". I would think throwing corn seed on the ground would attract not only turkeys, but deer, coons, skunks etc.
I was just trying to give an example of how big the turkey population is......To expand on my original question. When they planted corn conventionally the turkey just dug up every shoot and destroyed them. What would keep turkeys from eating all of the chickory or clover seed off the ground before it has a chance to germinate? I would assume, nothing....that is unless it is not a desirable food source to turkeys.
Sorry Bowfreak, my bad!
I have never had turkey completely destroy a field; however, last year as I was planting milo, I had turkey in the field eating the grain I just planted. They did not seem to get enough to reduce the crop, so you must have a serious amount of turks!
Clover/chicory seed is probably too small for turkeys; however, smaller songbirds and dove for example seem to work the fields I just planted and also pull some shoots just coming up. But, in a recently turned field, they may also be feeding on worms, grubs etc that get worked to the surface and may not be after our seed at all. At least so far I have not had a problem with any birds reducing the seed or shoots enough to cause a noticeable reduction.
On corn fields, as with any crop, if they are too small in size then my experience has been coons, skunks etc. will destroy them-either eating all of the grain before you can get to it, or eating the shoots as they start coming up.
O.K. good. I am going to give it a go this winter. Going to get some before pics and hopefully have something worth mentioning for after.
ttt---love this thread...keep us posted!
Here is an updated picture. After the initial rain, we received only another .15" until yesterday when we received 1.7". The cool weather and dew kept things going during a dry spell. The native grasses are going dormant and the forbs have peaked out and are on the downside. Visits by deer have picked up nicely.
This gives a good look at the alternating rows of wheat and oats, and shows the clover filling in nicely.
I would reccomend putting up 4 T-fence post to make a 3X3 square in the center of your food plot. Wrap it with fencing so the deer cannot eat it. You will see how high it would have grown without being eaten.
Nice work LW!
I'm not sure what is more fun the habitat development or the hunting...
I just saw this when I tried to find the thread. Yes, I will update it, thanks for asking. Robin and I just burned the NG last evening and had a good hot fire as the second year growth provided lots of fuel.
I'll pull some pictures over the weekend. Thanks.
This is from June of last year. The clover is in full bloom and you can not tell where the oats or the wheat was at. It took two mowings to kill all of the wheat. My conclusion is that wheat or oats work equally fine for cover crops; however, the oats will only last until several days of a hard freeze kill it. The clover went down hill after this due to flooding which brought a lot of weed and grass seed in. I frost seeded this past winter and if I have good results filling in the bare spots I'll keep the clover through next year. If not, then I'll plant to some other crop this summer.
The flowers that dominate each year change.
Here is what the alternating rows of wheat/oats looked like before the oats died in the winter of 09/10. I should have planted it later than I did as the oats grew too tall for the deer to like it much, but they kept the wheat clipped all winter.
This is from January of this year and gives a good idea of the fuel load we had for the burn last evening.
A late snow storm hit March 14th, and this picture shows what great insulation NG provides. There were rabbit tracks everywhere in this stuff. My camera was catching coyote pictures 3 at a time when this happened.
This picture is from this morning after last evening's burn. The bigger fuel load gave a much hotter burn than the previous year. Compare pictures and you'll notice there is no "spottiness" here where the fire missed. (Though, spottiness is actually better for wildlife.) This year, 2011, will be the third growing season and the grass should really come into it's own. This will prove whether oaks are fire resistant or not as the flames reached at least 9-10' in the air and caught some of the dead leaves on fire. It was fun and many neighbors were watching.
Speaking of neighbors, one had me plant a patch for him last year and my immediate neighbor removed some cedar trees so his family could observe the sanctuary while sitting in their enclosed porch. The wildlife is really using the place!
Here is the clover today, which is disappointing in terms of all the bare spots caused by the flood. The deer are hammering it though, and after the burn last night, there were tracks everywhere-probably out of curiosity?
OK, here is some of the wildlife from just 2010. These micro-projects work if the surrounding land and layout can be used to your advantage. Robin and I bought this property in '00 and I have been experimenting with different techniques with this small piece, techniques that I learned from to know what should work best at our small farm. You can learn a lot when you can watch your results daily, and see immediately how the wildlife responds. This truly has been a blessing and has many of the neighbors interested and has them appreciating wildlife more.
Lots of daytime activity year round-these guys are way too bold. The plot and grass have really attracted mice/rabbits, and we see yotes, hawks, owls and snakes on a regular basis.
I'll let you know if this guy survived.
I will try and do a better job of keeping everyone updated this year. Thanks for following and the compliments. Please let me brag just a little-I have been doing habitat work since the early 90s; however until this area behind our home my work had always been on property I did not own. In March 2007 Robin and I purchased a small, 120 acre farm in MO, and we have been intensely applying QDM principles and some techniques of our own. TSI, plots, NG, edge layering, mineral licks, plantings etc. I guess I was not as interested in this little sanctuary as I was the farm and I forgot to update regularly.
I am convinced habitat management works, even on small properties. The number of deer using the plot behind our home is unreal, and we saw that big buck above and one bigger during daylight hours in the rut. Draw the does, and you'll draw the bucks. The picture above is from our farm this year, that I was blessed to have harvested. The picture below is from a buck in KS on another property we apply QDM principles to. I know most of this is luck, but to have harvested such a unique, once in a lifetime trophy on my farm, please don't laugh, but the Good Lord allowed it to happen. I give Him full credit. This is MO, and we all know you can not keep a buck on that small of a piece of land; however, we found his normal side shed in February on a late season food plot. I am convinced that by keeping your property just a little more attractive to wildlife than surrounding properties you will keep nice bucks using your land as part of their core area.
FYI, I believe working the soil and having "crops" in the area the NG was planted really helped the grass get a great start. By working the soil and spraying more than once, I was able to ensure I eliminated much of the seed bank that would have competed with the grass. I also believe the looser soil allowed for quicker root development. I have never had the results I am observing here as when I have just killed a cooler season grass area in fall and then worked the ground the following spring to plant NG. The turnips also helped break the soil and I think turnips or forage radishes will be used again in the fall prior to planting NG on any future plantings.
My trailcam caught these pictures of us burning the field last Monday.
I said above that we were witnessing tons of deer sign, including the night of the burn. The camera had 57 pictures with multiple deer in them from the next 2 nights. You can see the deer just bedded in the clover!
The above picture had 4 deer in it, though it is tough to tell from the post.
Here are 2 pictures, one from last evening and one from this morning. You can see the native grass starting to grow, and it looks like it should be thick this year. I did frost seed some more forbs right before the last snow after burning, so we'll see if we have some color.
The oaks all appear, so far, to be unharmed from the fire. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
The redbuds are popping and you just have to love spring. We could hear a turkey gobbling over by the lake. It doesn't get any better than that IMO.
The clover is looking better, but lots of weeds in it.
The oaks that were in the fire are all pushing buds, but very slowly and a little behind the other oaks in our yard. I think between the aggressive trimming and exposure to fire, they may be weakened some. It will be interesting to see if this will let disease or insects cause further harm.
NG management philosophies vary; however, I am inclined to burn this NG every year for the first 10 years as some suggest. I may burn every year just because it cleans up the area and makes it more presentable to our neighbors. Repeated burns may have some detrimental effect on the trees and I'll keep you posted. We'll learn together!
Here's a couple of pictures. The deer are still only using the plot at night, due probably to my dogs being out late with me, but also after the burn it must look less secure to them. Notice the one picture has 5 does in it. The other is a picture of the buck we have had for a few years with the weird rack, at least I believe. Look at his left rear leg, it looks like an old injury.
This is an awesome thread! I read the whole thing, not sure how I've missed it before?? I've been on here since '05 or so and never saw it. But I think this is awesome and I hope more people take your lead and understand that micro projects can be the most beneficial. Studying to be a wildlife manager myself this makes me happy to see and hope it spreads! Thanks for all the updates and I hope to see more!
Here is a picture of the NG today. It is really doing well, and coming in nicely for the third growing season. I do not see as many forbs as in the past, so it may not be as colorful this year, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. I can always disk some strips in the fall and frost seed some flowers if I need to.
Here is the NG as of today. I am very, very pleased with the outcome. The oaks have all leafed out, but you can tell they were set back some from both the aggressive trimming and heat. Some varieties certainly do better than others. I will not trim this year and will cut the grass back more to make sure I do not unnecessarily stress the trees next spring when we burn again.
Deer activity is awesome right now, the does are mostly pregnant with no fawns showing up yet. Several bucks though:)
The oaks have all survived the spring burn and leafed out beautifully. The NG is very thick this year. Birds and insects every where and deer are visible daily with one fawn being nursed along the creek's edge. Three coyotes were in the plot yesterday looking for the fawns no doubt.
The big boys are back. I think you'll remember these from previous pictures. The second photo is the buck with his head down in the first photo. And we are just hitting the peak growing time.
Habitat, thanks for the perserverance in this thread (and your project overall)! Keep the updates/pics coming! It is a great inspiration to many of us!
Thanks guys, I appreciate that.
Here are some pics from the last 3 days. I have six different pictures of a coyote on the same day at different times in broad daylight. They are definitely searching for the fawns. Look at the different health of the does, one is really filled out. And, these are two new bucks making 7 different bucks within the last 2 weeks. This stuff really works!
Here are some pictures of the NG today. Honestly, I do not take good quality pictures. The grass is so much taller than the pictures portray and the seed heads are everywhere. Big blue looks awesome. There is also an updated picture of the symetrical buck from above. Look at how much he has grown in the short time period.
In early August I sprayed the clover with non-selective herbicide and 2-4D with a surfactant. The clover had become too weedy from the flood early in the year. I tilled it all under on 8/16 and planted turnips and rye grain. It rained 3 times since then, almost 2". The turnips could be seen for the first time today. The NG is all I envisioned when I planted it. Tons of wildlife visiting everyday, but that should slow down dramatically now that the field is bare. I will keep you updated on the progress of the planting. My intent is to put sunflowers in next year as my wife really enjoyed the look of them on our farm this year. The following year I may plant the food plot portion into NG, I'm thinking about eastern gamma as I like what we have on the farm. I enjoy planting food, but it is more expensive than just a stand of NG. There is also plenty of agriculture nearby and I think I would still have plenty of deer visits because of the cover and mineral. We'll see, no need to make a decision now.
The NG is heading into the final stages for the year, and is beautiful IMO.
It has not rained since the last post of 8/21. The food plot is struggling some, but cultipacking a well crumbled soil really improves drought tolerance I have found.
This will be my last post/update.
The NG is starting to go dormant and is changing colors. The turnips/rye are doing fine for not having had rain for 30 days! At this point this project will just need annual maintenance of burning and so there will not be anything worth sharing going forward.
It is fitting that the last picture includes our two labs-Buddy and Reagan:)
Thanks for all of the words of encouragement and also to those who contributed additional knowledge on this thread. Private conservation projects IMO will continue to gain in popularity and importance in maintaining our wildlife resources. It is my sincere hope that sharing this project helped all of us in at least a couple of ways-first, that NG takes at least 3 years in most cases to develop a good stand so patience is the key. And second, that small projects which take into account other natural habitat in close proximity can be very productive in terms of attracting wildlife and can also help reduce a property owner's upkeep costs.
Thanks again for allowing me to share this and good luck on all of your personal conservation efforts!
OK, so I lied about the above being my last post:)
Pat's plot threads got me excited. Since I am in my first week of recovery from back surgery I am bored. I was reviewing old stuff and this could use an update.
The original planting of WSNG (warm season native grass, or just NG) has been burned every year. The fuel load was unbelievable this year. I waited until conditions were proper; however, because of moisture content from recent rains this 1.5 acres let off a lot of smoke. The fire department was called by a neighbor who does not like conservation projects. By the time they arrived the fire was completed and they just laughed.
Even though the pictures from 3 years ago show mostly Indian Grass, this area has started to be dominated by Big Bluestem, the grand-daddy of NG, which I love. There is still plenty of Indian, switch, side oats, little bluestem and enough forbs (a lot of ragweed) on the edges to keep birds using the area with great frequency.
The taller varieties make a great back drop for Robin's flower gardens adjacent to the NG.
Much of this is over 7' tall!
In 2012 I planted the food plot portion in NG for several reasons. I noticed a significant increase in row crop production on land directly adjacent to our development (no doubt encouraged by higher crop prices), too many deer were coming to our yard and destroying Robin's flowers, and with our small farm I have all of the regular work I needed. Besides, I concluded cover was more of a limiting factor in this area.
2012 was the worst drought in our area in decades. Though I planted the same mix as in the NG area, I added some eastern gamma grass which I planted at our farm for bedding cover near a woods/plot edge. The deer really seemed to like it. And since this area is lower and usually a little more moist, I am hoping conditions will be perfect.
Other than some gamma grass coming in the other NG seed did not seem to germinate due to lack of water. I did not see much new growth in 2013 either, another drier year than normal.
I was able to get a partial burn of this area when I burned the NG mentioned and pictured above. I did this in early March. I then broadcast some more bluestem and Indian grass and cultipacked it in. We had several nights of freeze afterwards. I also tried to pre-stratify the seed by leaving it in our pole barn that is not heated for several months before planting.
We did get more NG plants this year besides the gamma. I don't know if it is the seed from 2012 that remained dormant until conditions were right, or the new seed that might have given more than normal first year growth due to great (wet) conditions and the prep work, or a combination?
Just as every year since we first planted this, a doe has birthed and kept one of her fawns in the tall thick stuff right next to the creek running along this area. We get to see her about every evening.
Told you I was bored:) Hopefully though this will help anyone else contemplating planting WSNG and also realize that the grass composition itself will continue to change over at least a ten year period, if not more from what I have learned from others..
Pat, I know you said only to get the two boxes on that drill, but I would rather skip the small seed box and go with the chaffy seed box and crop seed box if I had to stay with two. If I had your equipment, I could plant scores of acres of this stuff for the hobbiest.
TTT, Was able to find this with my PC. I did a search with my phone outside and kept getting the error message. I figured it might have been deleted when Pat did maintenance. Anyway, thread is too long to continue posting on.