COLUMBIA, Mo.–The University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center will host a bobwhite quail and native pollinator field day Thursday, June 20, 1-7 p.m.
The free event offers landowners, farmers and wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about habitat-management for northern bobwhite quail and using native plants for landscaping. The field day includes field demonstrations, tours and presentations by agronomists, biologists and conservationists.
According to Bob Pierce, MU Extension wildlife specialist, bobwhite populations have been on a downward trend for the past 30 years.
“Overall, their numbers have dropped steeply across the state and region as changes in agriculture, urban development and other land uses have erased bobwhite habitat,” Pierce said.
But the bobwhite population has actually grown over the last several years at Bradford, which has served as a laboratory for practices that integrate wildlife habitat into modern farming operations.
“We’ve shown that farmers and landowners can reverse the decline with management practices that don’t cost a lot of money and take up just a small amount of space,” says Tim Reinbott, superintendent at Bradford.
As with past bobwhite quail field days at Bradford, a major focus will be native plants that can provide food and cover for bobwhites and other wildlife. Because native plants are adapted to Missouri’s climate and soil, they need less water and fertilizer than non-native plants and are more resistant to pests and disease, Reinbott said.
Using native plants for habitat management also supports more robust populations of native pollinators—including bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and many other species—that play a vital role in agriculture.
Pierce said that indoor sessions at the field day will provide a detailed look at managing bobwhite habitat. Topics will include habitat appraisals, native plants, predators, bobwhite ecology and population dynamics, and conducting fall covey counts. Attendees can hear success stories and get advice during a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with landowners.
Outdoor sessions will demonstrate prescribed burning, bird dog training and how to calibrate equipment for uniform seeding and proper herbicide application.
A one-hour walking tour will look at pollinators and landscaping with native plants. Wagon tours will let visitors see examples of field borders and other habitat management techniques, and learn how to estimate quail populations by conducting call counts.
Counts of spring mating calls underway at Bradford will give researchers insight into how challenging weather has affected bobwhites’ nest and brood-rearing success at the farm.
“We’ve seen quite an extreme the past few months, from the dry conditions of 2012 to the wet and cool spring of 2013,” Pierce said.
A new field day feature this year is the Habitat Help Desk.
“Landowners can meet with wildlife biologists and look at satellite photos of their property to help develop a custom wildlife plan,” Pierce said.
In addition, participant will receive a packet of educational materials, including MU Extension guides, Missouri Department of Conservation fact sheets, and information from a variety of sponsoring organizations.
The event is free and you don’t need to register in advance. Drinks and hamburgers are provided after the event in return for completing a brief evaluation form.
The MU Bradford Research Center is several miles east of Columbia at 4968 Rangeline Road. For driving directions and other information, go to aes.missouri.edu/bradford or call 573-884-7945.
Sponsors include the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; MU Extension; Lincoln University; the Missouri Department of Conservation; the Missouri Soybean Association; and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Farmers and landowners can learn more from the MU Extension publication “Establishing and Managing Early Successional Habitats for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands” (MP907), available for free download at extension.missouri.edu/p/MP907.