If quail and other wildlife are scarce on your property during winter, consider planting food plots this spring. Although they are no substitute for natural habitat, patches of soybeans, sorghum and other crops will help quail and other wildlife survive this coming winter. To make sure your food plots do the most good, plant them near shrubby cover or open stands of native warm-season grasses. Quail seldom venture more than 70 yards from shrubby cover, which they use for protection from predators and temperature extremes. Shrubby areas also harbor many native plants that produce high-nutrition foods, such as beggar’s lice, ragweed and partridge pea.
For help developing high-quality food plots, consult the Covey Headquarters Newsletter or Wildlife Management Practices. To find them both online, go to the links listed below and search “headquarters” or “wildlife practices.”
Every five years, Congress debates the federal farm bill, which includes many conservation incentive programs that reward landowners for providing wildlife habitat. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, for example, is popular with Missouri landowners such as Jim Gibson, who boosted wildlife populations on his property. The program provided up to 75 percent cost-share for prescribed burning, weed and tree control, native-prairie expansion and erosion reduction. You can track farm bill hearings online.
Because Carroll County resident Patrick Jenkins’ farm is prone to flooding, his levees and crops took a beating almost every year. In 1996, he looked into the Wetland Reserve Program, a farm bill provision that enabled him to reserve his flood-prone acres for wetland habitat and purchase “drier” acres for his farm operation. WRP is designed to help farmers provide critical and seasonal wetland habitat for migrating waterfowl. Landowners participate through easements or restoration cost-share agreements. Since 1992, Missouri has received 147.6 million WRP dollars, totaling 790 easements.
WRP is among the farm bill programs Congress will debate this summer. Follow farm bill progress through the links listed below.
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