Wildlife Friendly Farmland

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Published on: Jan. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

he is planting pin oaks and blackberry bushes.

Like Runyan, Adrian Lee uses alternative watering systems and intensive grazing. With the help of cost-sharing programs from the Conservation Department and the Christian County Soil and Water District, he fenced off nine paddocks of pasture. After the cattle have eaten the grass in one fenced area, Lee moves them to another. Cost-sharing helped him purchase gravity and solar operated pumps that bring spring water to the cattle.

"These programs helped me a lot," says the 74-year-old retired school teacher who has been raising cattle all his life. "I didn't realize how beneficial these programs could be."

The intensive grazing system has many benefits, says Fisheries Management Biologist Kenda Flores. By keeping the cattle out of the streams and ponds, the manure stays in the pastures and fertilizes them, which cuts costs for the farmer and makes the streams cleaner for people, fish and other wildlife. The grazing and watering system also prevents diseases, such as foot rot, because the cattle do not stand in their water source.

Not all landowners are interested in farming, but they still need help improving their land. Rob Bolin and several of his duck hunting friends enrolled their 93 acres in Holt County in Partners for Wildlife. Through this Conservation Department program, Bolin has taken advantage of cost-sharing to develop wetland habitat for ducks and geese.

An avid hunter and regional chairman for Ducks Unlimited, Bolin knows the importance of restoring wetlands in Missouri. With Conservation Department funding, he and his friends put in five stop-log structures, which hold back water and allow them to control water levels. As part of the agreement, the owners will keep water in the wetland through the end of March to provide habitat for migrating spring waterfowl.

"We would have improved the wetland without the cost sharing," he says, "but the program allowed us to put in more water control structures and create more water control habitat." The owners have now enrolled their land in the Wetland Reserve Program, which will reimburse them for the agricultural value of the land that they will use to offset pumping costs.

Cost-sharing was important for David Williams to help him restore a wetland area near Chillicothe in Livingston County. Williams farms 2,000 acres, where he raises soybeans, corn and wheat and maintains pastures and hay fields for cattle. He already had 300 acres enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

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