To make a good profit, farmers must maximize production from every potential cropland acre of the farm, creating a delicate balancing act between economics and good resource management. The slightest alteration in a crop field's structure can have a major impact on wildlife calling the area home.
- Follow best management practices for pest management.
- Use a crop rotation system that includes small grains and forage crops.
- Use cover crops for winter erosion control, soil health, and wildlife benefit.
- Follow soil test recommendations and use variable-rate fertilizer application.
- Use a no-till system. Avoid fall tillage. Crop residue protects the soil, and wildlife use the grain left behind from harvest throughout the winter.
- Plant native warm-season grass or wildlife-friendly cool-season grass around the borders of all or a portion of your crop fields.
- Establish wildlife-friendly grass filter strips around ponds and along creeks to reduce sedimentation, trap nutrients, and add wildlife cover.
- Seed waterways to wildlife-friendly grass/legume mixtures. Mow or hay after the primary nesting period of May 1 to July 15.
- Protect woody draws and fencerows. Spray these areas mid-to-late October with a herbicide to set back grass encroachment and encourage shrubby cover.
- Leave a minimum of 1/4 acre of unharvested standing crop for every 40 acres of crop field adjacent to good cover.