Thrifty Quail Habitat Management

Published on: Aug. 20, 2009

the planted crop.

Top picture is corn planted at half the recommended rate and with a light herbicide application to control some of the seedy plants. Notice the abundance of pigweed and foxtail in the corn. Bottom picture: An idle food plot provides good brooding cover and food the following year. Idling plots cuts your costs in half!

Reduce Native Warm-Season Grass Seeding Rates.

If not required by a conservation program, consider reducing native warm-season grass seeding rates to no more than 3 to 4 pounds of Pure Live Seed per acre. The lighter seeding rate will leave more room for annual seed-producing plants and bare ground--the stuff quail like. If possible, plant the shorter native grasses like little bluestem and side oats gramma. These grasses tend to be less competitive than the “big” native grasses and thus leave more room for native forbs, legumes and bare ground. Another option is not even to plant warm-season grasses at all. I’ve seen numerous old fields in Missouri that only needed an herbicide application to eradicate tall fescue or smooth brome. If there are already scattered patches of broomsedge or other native warm-season grasses, skip the headache of planting more grass and work with what’s there. Remember, quail don’t need a lot of grass for nesting. Sorry, you’ll have to start over if the field is heavily infested with nonnative warm-season grass like Bermuda grass.

Learn to Burn and Burn Safely.

The best quail management tool is prescribed fire. No other practice is as cost-effective as prescribed fire. Learn how to use it correctly and safely.

Enroll Your Crop Field Edges into CRP!

Research has shown that crop field borders enrolled in the conservation practice known as CP33 provide more than just habitat; they also save the farmer money! Studies completed by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri have shown a positive economic return to enrolling field borders into the CP33 practice, better known as “Bobwhite Buffers.” Researchers compared crop yields, commodity prices, operating costs and soil rental rates to determine the economic value of installing CRP field borders. Even with high-commodity prices the economic benefit is higher on crop fields with buffers than those without. If the economic benefit isn’t enough, biologists monitoring quail densities have seen a significant increase in quail densities on crop fields with CP33 field borders than on those without.

Forget the Mower and Save Fuel.

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