Everything you do, or don’t do, on your land has an effect on the wildlife you share it with and the fish in the streams and rivers. Just letting plants grow taller, rather than clipping them close to the ground, creates more cover for wildlife. Or letting a few plants grow taller results in more insects for young birds.
If you think about leaving food or cover for wildlife and fish as you manage your land, you’re on your way to doing the little things that can add up to having a major impact. Here are some suggestions along the way:
Grass and hay fields. Leave streamsides, ditchbanks, roadsides, grassed waterways, and other odd areas undisturbed or wait until after nesting season to mow. Add flushbars to mowing equipment. Mow hayfields from the center to the outside, giving wildlife a chance to escape to field edges.
Crop fields. Use no-till or conservation tillage to provide cover and food for wildlife in the winter. Leave a few rows of standing crop along field edges to provide wildlife food. Maximize the likely survival of pheasants and other birds by leaving these rows next to large tracts of grasses, trees or other habitat.
Smart pest control. Use integrated pest management practices to minimize fish and wildlife exposure to pesticides and encourage beneficial insects, bats, raptor and other species to help in reducing crop pests.
Maximize odd areas. Make full use of non-farmed areas by establishing habitat used by the wildlife you want to see. Use native grasses as well as forbs and legumes. Lightly disc a portion of your grasses early in the year – new growth of annual forbs will encourage insects and produce seeds for pheasants and other wildlife. Plant native trees and shrubs to produce fruits and nuts. Leave dead trees standing in woodlots to provide nesting and foraging sites for woodpeckers and other cavity nesting wildlife. Put up bird houses, bat boxes, and other artificial nesting structures.
Visit us at the Conservation District office for more tips on what you can do on your property. Every acre counts!
Pictured: Row crops such as corn and soybeans can be a very important food source for wildlife. Consider leaving a portion of the field unharvested to provide food throughout the winter. Rows of these crops located on the edges of the fields are often less productive from a crop production standpoint, but can be very productive for wildlife.