Disking for Wildlife

Landowner Assistance to Improve Wildlife Habitat

Dense sod or vegetation is detrimental to wildlife feeding and movement and can be improved by light disking. The technique involves disking strips through a field during fall or spring.

  • Strips should be 25 to 75 feet wide.
  • Strips should be separated from each other by an area of undisturbed vegetation twice as wide as the disked strip.
  • Disked strips should be as long as possible and should follow the contour of the field to prevent erosion.
  • The disking should be 2 to 4 inches deep and leave 50 percent residue remaining on the ground surface.
  • Disking should be done between Oct. 1 and March 30.

The disked areas will produce succulent forbs and legumes which attract insects and produce abundant seed, while the adjacent undisked areas will provide nesting and roosting cover.

One year later,

  • Disk a new strip of similar width in the adjacent undisked area. This will leave another undisked strip of equal width.
  • Disk it one year later. This develops adjacent strips of vegetation of three different ages.

Light disking enhances habitat quality by releasing sod-bound grasses, reducing residue, creating bare ground, increasing insect populations and stimulating growth of desirable seed-producing plants.

Light disking provides more insects and desirable seed at a much lower cost than planting food plots and is an excellent way to enhance grassland habitat for bobwhite quail and other wildlife.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

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