When he signed up for the Conservation Reserve Program in February 2006, it had been 25 years since Oran Boulden had seen a covey of quail on his Howard County farm. Since then, CRP has helped Oran establish filter strips and bobwhite buffers of native warm-season grasses and wildflowers. He also completed edge feathering around several crop fields. This year, Oran has good news to report. “Last fall, I saw a covey of about 12 quail just on the edge of one of the warm-season grass buffers. I know I have a long way to go, but I am encouraged with the great start to bring quail back on my 160-acre farm.”
If you’d like some help bringing quail back to your farm, sign up for CRP this fall. Your private land conservationist can show you how. To find your private land conservationist, call your regional Conservation Department office.
If you want more quail next fall, lightly disk your grassland acres now. This practice sets succession back to bare ground. The exposed soil creates ideal brooding habitat for quail and boosts insect and seed production. Disk in late summer or fall, and aim to expose 30 to 70 percent of your soil. Disk strips 25 to 75 feet wide, and alternate with strips of undisturbed vegetation twice as wide as the disked strip.
For more information on light disking, explore the links listed below.
Did you know quail are associated with glades and savannas, as well as grasslands? Usually found south of the Missouri River, glades have shallow, rocky soils on south- or west-facing slopes. Savannas are a type of park-like woodland found throughout Missouri. Historically, periodic fire maintained both glades and woodlands, but modern fire prevention and overgrazing have allowed Eastern red cedar to overrun them. Glade and savanna restoration starts with cutting red cedar.
In Miller County, Jim Wisch has restored more than 40 acres of glade and woodland on his farm. First he cut red cedar, then a year later he conducted a prescribed burn. Jim says the hard work has been worth it. Now he hears more quail—and sees more wildflowers—than ever before.
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