Sometimes it’s the little things you do in life that make a big difference. A smile, a helping hand, or a shared laugh can make a major impression. What you may not realize is that there are also ‘little things’ that can impact the wildlife with which we share our lands. As the human population continues to multiply, expand and develop the land, it’s the little things that can make all the difference for wildlife and fish habitats. What can you do?
Grass and hay fields.
- Leave streamsides, ditchbanks, roadsides, grassed waterways, and other odd areas undisturbed or wait until after the nesting season to mow.
- Add flush-bars to mowing equipment. Mow hay fields from the center to the outside, giving wildlife a chance to escape to field edges.
- Use no-till or conservation tillage to provide cover and food for wildlife in winter.
- Flood crop residue during the winter for waterfowl habitat and shorebirds while allowing stubble breakdown.
- Leave a few rows of standing crop along field edges to provide wildlife food. Maximize the likely survival of pheasants, quail 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, raptors 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 on your farm.
- 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, quail 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 to encourage wildlife to use spaces outside of barns and fields.
Jim Williams is the NRCS Conservationist covering Missaukee and Wexford counties. Visit Jim at the Cadillac office: whatever whatever Boon Rd. or visit the NRCS home web site at www.nrcs.usda.gov