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Thread: Habitat Enhancement for Fall?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    South-Central Kansas
    Posts
    37

    Default Habitat Enhancement for Fall?

    I mowed back a lot of our overgrown acreage this spring and performed three patch burns prior to nesting season.

    However, my quail & pheasant habitat is completely overgrown again this summer. (We had abundant rains during the spring.)

    The native grass prairie is nearly impenetrable up to my boundary edges and creek/tree edges. Our main habitat is sand plum thickets (0.1 to 0.5 acres in size) surrounded by native grass. The quail could hide there from an army of predators, but the cover is too thick for the quail to do anything else.

    I was going to bush hog part of the circumference around some of the thickets to give the birds some habitat diversity. I also want to cut some trails between thickets so they can move from one headquarters to another. Some patch burning in the fall would also be an option.

    Any advice on the best way to improve this habitat? Also the correct timing for any habitat modifications?

    [We are located about 12 miles east of Prairie Drifter's large managed area.]

    Thanks, Rod.

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

    Default

    Stop by the office and I'll give you a tour. We have completed 4 summer burns so far and have 4 more prepared to burn. Plenty of other options as well.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    South-Central Kansas
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Troy,

    Thanks for the offer. I have always hesitated to drop by your office when I am driving past because I figured it would be one of your "busy" times.

    However, now that I am putting in more time on my own land management, I have determined that your "busy" time is about 365 days/year.

    I have been working on your prior advice to get some cattle on our land. Watching the seasonal progression on the farm this year has only reinforced the wisdom of the patch burn/patch graze approach.

    The fence lines on our farm are suffering from about thirty years of neglect. I did spend a significant amount of time this spring clearing tree falls and encroaching trees from the fence lines. However, the fences still need a lot more work before I would be confident that they would contain cattle.

    I probably do need to visit you sometime this fall to observe your most recent projects and see your "worst" fence that you still trust to contain cattle.

    Rod

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

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    When grazed with the proper stocking rate, you grass will be easily travelled by game birds with enough canopy above to provide protection when not in the thickets themselves. Mowed trails leaves them open to avian predation.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    South-Central Kansas
    Posts
    37

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    Prairie Drifter,

    Thanks. I knew I wasn't going to get "A" grade habitat this year. However, I was hoping to still work up to at least a "B-".

    My trails would be pretty narrow, since I only use a 5' bush hog. I was also going to mow them serpentine - serpentine** to make it tougher on the predators. (** reference from the 1979 movie The In-Laws)


    P.S. I still want to do some patch burns this fall. What is your target date for fall burns to minimize the disruption to your bird populations?

    Thanks, Rod.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

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    The birds just flush out of the way of the fires and often you see them go right back in while it is still smoking. They are happy to gobble up the wounded and dead insects following the burns. If you want to affect the plums more, burn before they go dormant. You are trying to take energy away from them when they should be moving it down to their roots to store for next year. I did an 80 acre burn yesterday. Most of what you can do now will have more affect on next year's production, not this year's.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    South-Central Kansas
    Posts
    37

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    Thanks PD!

    I will get crackin' on my fire breaks. We should definitely have some good burn conditions for a few days in September.

    I have enough plum thickets that I can experiment and keep good notes on the results for future years.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Cunningham, Kansas
    Posts
    2,304

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    I noticed last year where we got 50% more rain than normal that my summer burns weren't as effective as similar burns in normal to dry years.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    South-Central Kansas
    Posts
    37

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    Yes, "pre-stressing" the flora must make it more susceptible to all of our interventions.

    The opposite is also clearly true on our farm this year. We had excellent ground moisture from the early spring rains. My mowing and burning seemed to not set back the plant succession at all.

    Even my invasive trees seemed to sprout back up. Hopefully, I can hurt them enough with the multi-year plan to eradicate them from most areas.

  10. #10

    Default

    How is a summer burn done ?
    Does it take a fair amount of diesel to get it to go?

    Drip torch and some leaf blowers enough to get it going and to slow it down ?

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