In the Wild with Greg Wagner

FARMING FOR CONSERVATION by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
August 19, 2009, 10:16 am
Filed under: Hunting | Tags: ,

No more row crops!  I’ve sure made a major move. Some members of my family think I’m just plain “nuts!” I’ve put our entire family farm in southeastern Nebraska that was eligible in the 10-year, USDA Conservation Reserve Program this year. Known as the CRP, the program essentially retires highly erodible farmland from production for a period of 10-15 years and requires permanent cover to be planted on it.

 Here’s how it works in a nutshell: In exchange for taking land out of production, farmers receive an annual per-acre, competitive, stable rental payment to compensate for foregone output, and at least half the cost of establishing vegetative cover, usually grass or trees. Sign up and practice incentive programs may be available for certain aspects of the program. Additional cost-share incentives are available through the Game & Parks Commission and Pheasants Forever. More importantly, the value of this grassland-based program for wildlife, soil erosion prevention, and cleaner water cannot be overstated enough! The recreational benefits are huge!  

 On a recent hike through the property, my 21-year old Son Zach and I saw many different grasses, legumes, weeds and wildflowers along with deer, turkey and bobwhite quail and a variety of insects.   

 From my perspective, the whole process with the CRP went well from start to finish. Conservation professionals with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (Robert Hall and Chuck Leinen), Farm Services Agency (Bryan Ralston), Game & Parks Commission (Tim McCoy and Scott Luedtke) and Pheasants Forever (Pete Berthelsen) were nothing short of spectacular! I had high quality, custom seed mixes developed by Nebraska Pheasants Forever (    

 I would strongly encourage producers to take a close look at farming for conservation! It is profitable in so many ways!  

 Enjoy the photos from the Wagner family farm!    





2 Comments so far
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Looking good, Greg! That is the way habitat should look. You can’t raise much of anything (wildlife related) when you farm fence row to fence row.

I will bet you get to see a lot more pheasants and quail, too. One of my pet theories dealing with the decline of pheasant in Nebraska has to do with farming practices and when post-emergent insecticides are applied. When the spraying occurs, it seems to be about the same time that pheasant chicks are hatching. During the first 6-7 weeks of a young pheasant’s life its diet is 100% protein and they get the protein from bugs. With our farming practices, are we killing off the young birds food source…..and killing off the next generation of pheasants as well?

Comment by Rick Windham

Hey Rick,

Thanks for the note, buddy! You are right, according to those very knowledgeable folks in our NG & PC wildlife division, you bring up one of the concerns contributing to the decline of pheasant populations in Nebraska. Research shows that adequate nesting and brood-rearing cover providing good numbers of soft-bodied insects for the young birds to to eat are quintessential for pheasants and quail to prosper in good numbers.

A reminder to blog readers that my friend Rick Windham (who has a biology degree) hosts a great radio show called “The Outdoor Connection” that airs on North Platte, Nebraska’s KODY Radio/1240 AM from 9:00-9:30 a.m. (CST) every Friday morning.

Thanks again for the note, Rick. Keep up the excellent work on conservation in the North Platte area! Take care.

“Wags” — Greg Wagner

Comment by Daryl Bauer

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