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Thread: Succession Battle

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

    Default Succession Battle

    As land managers trying to maximize our land's productive potential for wildlife, we are in a constant battle with plant succession. When our grasslands are not managed correctly, grasses tend to dominate the stand and the brood-rearing potential drops as the forb and associated insect population is inadequate. When our woodlands age and canopy, blocking sunlight from reaching the ground, they too become less capable of supporting game birds. Luckily, we have a diverse arsenal of tools we can use to battle this advancing succession.

    I recently began working more on my woodlands here by girdling and treating elms and locust and cutting understory cedars. Our methodology is to go into a stand and girdle these target species chainsaw bar deep, then treat the cut with Pathway herbicide. We do this from first frost until sap starts heading back up, so mostly in the fall and winter. Girdling is far cheaper than cutting and stacking those trees and we won't have the bare spots that burning those piles of logs will promote. Benefits are seen from both the removal of the individual tree and eliminating the seed production of the same. Many other wildlife species will use the standing tree for housing and food and eventually the tree will fall and our fires will help to recycle their nutrient content back into the system.

    Doing this work is one of those projects that, while working, seems to be moving far too slowly. However, when you reach the end of the day and look back, it is really impressive how much you have actually gotten done. Of course, I am rarely satisfied with my progress and have often wished I had started this program 10-20 years ago, however, there were more important tasks at hand then.

    On the prairie side, I have 4 of my 7 grazing units in Patch Burn/Patch Graze ( google OSU Patch Burn ) and am very impressed with the results. I may try to put two of the remaining units into that system in the future. I'm mainly talking bobwhite here and maximizing "useable space" is paramount to increasing and supporting a higher population. The greatest success would be influencing my neighbors to utilize a similar system that would improve a larger footprint in the area for bobwhite, which would help to stabilize the population in the area at a higher density. Add to that the continuing assault we project on other invasives like: sericea lespedeza, multi-flora rose, tall fescue, smooth brome, Johnson grass, etc, and there is rarely a day where we have to look for something to do.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  2. #2

    Default

    Doesn’t look like you have a shortage of things to do drifter , I tried a bit of Hack and spray on some invasive trees this fall and was pleased to see no green leafs on it this spring .

    Drifter in your opinion what is some of the best brood rearing habitat for Quail? Pheasant?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

    Default

    I think that THE best is a patch of yellow sweet clover. The easiest to get is to strip disk in Oct/Nov and leave alone. Here I get a mixture of Western Ragweed, Toothed Spurge, Wooly Croton, Persch's Trefoil, sunflower, Giant Foxtail, Green Foxtail, and a myriad of other native species. I guess long ago I quit trying to best the Good Lord. These native forbs are adapted to here and, in years where introduced species would fail, tend to produce at lower levels despite the conditions. In general, diversity is the key. Beyond that, you want to look at plant structure and palatability to insects. There is a long list of good species to promote. It's best to use what's already in the seed bank in your area. Quail are a species that thrives on disturbance. Get disturbed
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Lawrence, Kansas
    Posts
    4,132

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    Everyone who takes good care of their land helps wild birds survive and thrive. Thank you, good Kansan.
    - From the office of Colt, Stoeger, Browning & Savage
    - Kansas: Big Cock Country

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

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    Drove through Iowa this week. I may not know what I'm looking at nor what soils here can tolerate, but the slopes that are farmed and the significant lack of perennial cover for mile after mile along interstate helps to explain the severe drop in pheasant numbers locally. I have a hard time understanding how such expensive land can be farmed with no soil conservation practices visible. Sure, I saw some grass-backed terraces in places, but they were in the minority. Plenty of corn and beans with some cool-season grass hay, but little in the small grain domain! The lack of nesting and brood-rearing habitat gives concern for starting life, and the lack of perennial cover give concern for sustaining it throughout an annual cycle. We all understand the need for food production, but we've lost the balance in life! In places, the "farming" culture has almost completely eliminated the "prairie state" culture! That lack of balance is resulting in the aforementioned loss of upland bird culture. I guess it gives me some satisfaction that I've lived when I have. The next generations may well never have as good a day afield as I've had. To think that birding may well all be put and take eventually makes my soul cry!!! God bless landowners that take the financial hit to retain some of the other "cultures" on the land they have the supreme privilege to "father" for a time!
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

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