Bushels or birds? Why not both! How production agriculture and wildlife habitat can co-exist.
Bushels or birds? Why not both!
As a rooted philosophy, members and stakeholders of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever understand wildlife and production agriculture co-exist. When each acre on the farm is maximized for its optimal use, the farm can reach a new level of synergy, supporting goals of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat.
Further, it is only a myth that farmers and landowners need to choose one over the other to maximize profitability.
Today, the use of precision ag technology and conservation planning provides proof:
Simply put, wildlife habitat is profitable.
Sand County Foundation recently hosted a trio of webinars providing agronomists and farmers considerations to identify the best place to locate Prairie STRIPS (Science-based Trails of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips). To prepare proof of concept on the farm, we looked at field trends captured by farm technology and compared historic yields and budgets for those areas. The farmer provided insight that there were areas in the field that could benefit from alternative management of crops because of flooding risks.
The analysis showed these areas were historically losing $125/acre. With the financial numbers specific to the farm and a consultation with the farmer and agronomist, no in-field agronomic solution was recognized to increase this fields profitability. Edge-of-field Prairie STRIPS were considered and adopted as the optimal use for the acres.
Prairie STRIPS are wildlife habitat. Specifically, they are diverse native grasses and forbs planted in a location that will maximize water infiltration, reduce sediment and nutrient runoff, and support beneficial habitat for pollinator species, as well as habitat for wildlife species that utilize grassland adjacent to agriculture.
While the establishment of prairie STRIPS were alone more profitable than the current field management, incentives through the Conservation Reserve Program provided assurance that the practice would be maintained for ten years. The results increased the field profitability by over $50/ac.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever staff continue to work with farmers and landowners to identify the optimal use for every acre and increase profitability. Regardless of where in the country a farm is located and regardless of the commodity crop grown, opportunity exists to analyze every acre on the farm and maximize the output for production of bushels AND birds.
If you are interested in learning more about Prairie STRIPS, click here