Category Archives: Uncategorized

Permian Basin Drilling Skyrocketing in 2017: What Can We Do to Prepare?

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The Permian Basin is poised to see a dramatic increase in drilling activity in 2017. This increase in drilling will be accompanied by a large ramping up of infrastructure projects to handle the new production. Therefore, the landscape of a few West Texas counties is about to change!

 

Historically, the upcoming hotspot counties in the Permian Basin were vast grassland prairies capable of producing 2200 to 2500 pounds of grass per acre. The prairie grass served as an opportunity for cattleman to grow more beef. Hence, the introduction of barbed-wire fences and livestock. With these introductions came the reduction of naturally occurring prairie fires. Fire played an important role in the natural ecology of the Permian Basin. The introduction of fences/livestock and the removal of fire has changed the landscape for the worse. This landscape, for anyone less than 90 years old, is and has always been a shrubby, desolate, useless landscape. But, that is not natural state of the Permian’s landscape.

 

It appears we (the oil/gas industry) may have an opportunity unlike ever before…to improve the ecology and landscape. We may have an opportunity to utilize drilling and infrastructure projects as a vehicle to restore the natural ecology and landscape to the natural prairies it once was. With proper guidance, direction, and equipment, these oil and gas operations will, in essence, be tilling the land; thereby creating the perfect opportunity to re-establish the native prairie species that are nonexistent today.

 

For instance, by re-establishing the native prairie vegetation the oil and gas industry will be creating wildlife corridors that currently do not exist. A wildlife corridor is an area of land that provides habitat (food and shelter) for wildlife species during migration. If restored correctly, Right-of-Ways [ROW] should be identified as a wildlife corridor. The Monarch butterfly’s migration pattern overlays the Permian Basin. The Monarch’s ability to survive while migrating is largely limited by the lack of native vegetation throughout the landscape. With proper guidance, direction, and equipment oil and gas projects can and should be used as a tool to create wildlife corridors and pollinator habitat in an environment that is currently barren.

 

These types of conservation efforts can only be accomplished with the help of the oil and gas industry. Ranchers, landowners, and land operators cannot justify investing in the establishment of wildlife corridors and/or pollinator habitat. The income from ranching, due to the condition of the land, struggles to pay the land taxes alone. It is only with an influx of capital, such as oil and gas development, will this area have an opportunity to restore areas to native prairies, wildlife corridors, and pollinator habitat.

 

The stage is being set for 2017 to be a year to remember in the Permian Basin. With guidance, direction, and the right equipment 2017 may be the year the oil and gas industry changed public perception from that of destroying the land to restoring the land to its natural, healthy, and sustainable condition.

 

Rhett Kerby

by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.

Monarch Conservation Strategies – Don’t Just Think Milkweeds

Monarchs are all the craze! Rightfully so, as their migration pattern is a true expression nature which is to be appreciated by the most layperson.

 

Species of milkweed plants are responsible for the butterflies’ food source during early stages of life. The number of milkweed plants has been negatively affected by many cultural practices throughout multiple industries. Therefore, numerous initiatives have been developed throughout North America to plant milkweeds in areas such as: roadway medians, flower beds, school yards, etc .

 

There are numerous species of milkweeds throughout North America. However, the availability of many of the species of milkweed seed has troubled the conservation and restoration communities and their respective initiatives to plant milkweeds. There are only a few milkweed species that can economically be produced, and therefore, be offered on the market. This creates a problem for some of the areas within the migration path…that problem is: there are no seeds of the region-specific milkweed species for the given area.

 

So, if there is no milkweed seed available for your region what do you do? Chris Helzer, Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science in Nebraska, has a great blog related to other necessary strategies of Monarch habitat conservation. These necessary strategies include ensuring that nectar-rich native forb species are available for adult feeding throughout the migration.

 

 

Chris says, “In addition [to planting milkweeds], protecting and restoring the wildflower-rich grasslands and other natural areas that provide food for adult monarchs, as well as for thousands of bee and other pollinator species, is also vitally important.” Furthermore, “A healthy prairie with a diverse wildflower community is invaluable to bees and other pollinators, and also provides nectar resources needed by monarch butterfly adults. If that prairie contains vibrant populations of milkweed species that provide egg-laying habitat to monarchs, that’s even better. Many prairies don’t currently have strong milkweed populations. Some milkweed species are not strong competitors in a tight-knit plant community, and certain grazing and other management practices tend to further discourage milkweeds. Over the next several years, I am hoping to learn more about how to make prairies support stronger milkweed/monarch populations. Hopefully, we and others can help make North American prairies even better contributors to the survival of monarch butterflies.”

 

 

Therefore, it is important to recognize native, natural prairies as a function of Monarch habitat sustainability. You can read Chris’s full article at:https://prairieecologist.com/2016/03/01/monarch-conservation-strategies/

 

 

Rhett Kerby

by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.

Meet the NRCS-led Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative

Bamert Seed Company is proud to say that 2016 will mark our 65th year of partnering in conservation efforts for many species throughout the United States!

 

We look forward to opportunities to be involved in the conservation of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken!

 

 

In 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service launched the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative to help private landowners voluntarily improve lesser prairie-chicken habitat. This video introduces the program and shows how we go about win-win conservation that benefits both agricultural producers and prairie wildlife.

 

Rhett Kerby

by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.

Monarch Butterflies – USDA Antes Up for Habitat

 

 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new conservation effort to help farmers in Indiana and nine other states provide food and habitat for monarch butterflies. This targeted effort in the Midwest and southern Great Plains by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest $4 million in 2016 to help combat the decline of this iconic species.
The orange-and-black butterflies are known for their annual, multi-generational migration from central Mexico to as far north as Canada. Monarch populations have decreased significantly over the past two decades, in part because of the decrease in native plants like milkweed – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars.

Examples of conservation improvements include buffer habitats, cover crops and better pasture management practices which help reduce erosion, increase soil health, inhibit the expansion of invasive species and provide food and habitat for insects and wildlife.

 

This effort by NRCS contributes to a multi-agency, international strategy to reverse the monarch’s population decline in North America, estimated to have decreased from one billion butterflies in 1995 down to about 34 million today. The National Strategy to Protect Pollinators and Their Habitat has a goal of increasing the eastern population of monarchs back up to 225 million by 2020.

 

Source: Washington Times Herald

 

Rhett Kerby

by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.

More CRP acres for Texas targetting Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat

Its noteworthy to mention that this program is available year-round. In other words, there is no sign-up period…sign-up anytime!

 

 

 

USDA Accepting More Farmland for Wildlife Habitat in Texas

 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – July 17, 2015 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Judith A. Canales today announced that an additional 27,300 acres of agricultural land in Texas is eligible for funding for wildlife habitat restoration.

 

The initiative, known as State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), is part of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally-funded voluntary program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

 

In total, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding through this SAFE announcement. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE nationwide.

 

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, which has not only resulted in significant soil and water improvements, but also greater populations of waterfowl, gamebirds and other wildlife native to the rural countryside,” said Canales. “Here in Texas, 114,800 acres in the Mixed Grass Project for the benefit of the Lesser Prairie Chicken are designed specifically to increase the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat. Since it was first established in 2008, farmers and ranchers have enrolled 87,500 acres, which increased managed and developed habitats, resulting in a 25 percent increase of the Lesser Prairie Chicken population. We hope to continue this progress by offering interested farmers and ranchers the opportunity to enroll another 27,300 acres in this project.”

 

Interested producers can offer land for enrollment in SAFE and other CRP initiatives by contacting their local FSA county office at http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more the 30th anniversary of CRP and to review 30 success stories throughout the year, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/CRPis30 or follow Twitter at #CRPis30. And for more information about FSA conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.

 

The Conservation Reserve Program was reauthorized by 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

 

 

Source: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?mystate=tx&area=stnewsroom&subject=stnr&topic=landing&newstype=stnewsrel&type=detail&item=stnr_tx_20150717_rel_01.html

 

 

Rhett Kerby

by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Bamert Seed Company would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this time with family and friends and take a moment to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for as individuals and a nation.

While enjoying your Thanksgiving festivities take a moment to thank the farmers who provide a bountiful harvest every year. It is through their hard work and dedication which allows us to enjoy an abundance and vast variety of affordable foods.

Bamert Seed

by Gretchen Adams, M.S.