As the spring planting season gears up I encourage everyone to think about the CRP general sign-up May 20th to June 14th. Remember CRP is a voluntary program that helps agricultural producers use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to control soil erosion, improve water and air quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 to 15 years. Accepted contracts for CRP sign-up 45 will begin Oct. 1 2013. If you are a landowner or farmer please contact your local FSA or NRCS office about the CRP sign-up!
Also ground nesting birds need our help and we need to encourage all landowners and farmers to reduce or eliminate roadside moving. Though pheasants and quail are often seen along roadsides, few people realize the importance of roadside ditches to wildlife. Roadsides form an extensive network of grassy corridors providing nesting, brood-rearing, and winter cover for wildlife. As urban sprawl and intensified land use practices gobble up more prairies, these grassy roadsides oftentimes provide the only significant nesting cover for ground-nesting critters. In fact, research has shown that up to one-half of all pheasants produced annually may come from roadside habitat in some regions. That number can escalate to nearly two-thirds in areas without land enrolled in CRP. While I’d never argue ditches as perfect habitat since they provide narrow paths for predators to search and also lead to animal/automobile accidents, roadsides do provide at least some form of wildlife cover in landscapes void of other options for wildlife. The other negative of roadside mowing is the corresponding mortality of chicks too young to escape a mower’s blades.
Remember: August 1st
While I understand driving visibility and snow drifting as issues that can require limited roadside mowing, it’s a chore accomplishable in early autumn rather than during the summer. At the very least, mowing should be delayed until August 1st, when the crucial period for nesting and brood-rearing has passed. Essentially, the best roadside habitats are those that are left undisturbed throughout the year, providing early-nesting habitat and winter cover. Research has shown that, on average, 40 percent of all pheasant nests found along roadsides hatch after July 1st, and 23 percent hatch after July 15th. In other words, mowing on July 1st could effectively reduce pheasant production by 40 percent in a given year.