A short clip from early October ’17 releasing pheasant into native grass habitat at our office.
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.
Monarchs and Milkweeds
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.
No Milkweed? No Problem
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/
Pollinator Week – 2016
“Nature is to be found in her entirety nowhere more than in her smallest creatures.” — Pliny the Elder
Pollinator Week began in 2007 upon the Senate’s unanimous decision to designate a week of June as “National Pollinator Week”. This marked the beginning of advancing awareness of all pollinating species. Pollinating species such as: bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and others are vital to our nation’s well-being by pollinating the flowers of plants that produce food, fiber, feed, and fuel.
The photo above is Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea). The purple parts of the plant are the petals of the flowers. The pollen of Purple prairie clover is orange, and is the male parts of the flower. The structures that create and present the pollen are called stamens. Pollinating species are attracted to the flower by its bright color and sweet nectar. As the pollinating species search the flower for nectar they are come in contact with the pollen; the pollen can either attach to the pollinator or can simply be knocked loose from the stamen. As the pollinator moves about the flower they transfer the pollen from the stamens to the pistil. The pistil is the female part of the plant. When the pollen (male) and is placed in or on the pistil (female) fertilization occurs. Upon fertilization the flower will begin to produce a fruit. We knows these fruits as vegetables, fruits, or seeds.
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.
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
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: USDA Farm Service Agency
In 1973 National Agriculture Day was established to honor and recognize the hard working agriculturalists. Agriculture is one of the oldest practiced sciences in the world and is an ever evolving science. Agriculture has a large impact in our everyday lives; from the food we eat, the clothes on our backs, the houses we call home, and the money we exchange. As the agricultural industry continues to meet the demands of the global economy, it is important to teach the worldwide impact of agriculture.
We here at Bamert Seed Company would like to thank the scientists, conservationists, farmers, ranchers, and all those involved in the agricultural industry.
Dodge put out an advertisement a couple years ago, we believe this is a good way to thank all of those involved in agriculture.
Click the video below to see Dodge’s “So God Made a Farmer“
If you are familiar with the Bobwhite quail, then you may also know Texas has faced a declining quail population, as well as many other states. This population decline correlates to the decrease in native habitat for quail. Bobwhite quail thrive on the nutritional value found when foraging on native seeds. Native plants are not only used as a source of food but also for nesting habitat, predator defense, and escapement. Native prairies are also needed to attract the insects for young chicks to feed on. Insects provide a large portion of the metabolic water required by quail of all ages.
In 2014, Texas lawmakers reserved $6 million for restoring native prairies and researching Bobwhite quail. However, there is one group who has already taken up the call for action to preserve the quail. Jim Willis, the founder of the Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF), began the initiative to preserve Bobwhite quail when he began transitioning his overgrazed pastures into native grasslands in 2004. They started out with 200 acres and created what they call the Quail Corridor. This corridor spreads down to the Attawater Prairie Chicken Reserve and has helped the Bobwhite quail population restoration efforts. Jim Willis’ and the WHF’s dedication to restoring prairie lands has helped inspire others to join the same restoration and conservation initiative. Since 90% of Texas is privately owned, landowners are the key to helping restore these native prairies. Today Jim Willis and the WHF have helped to restore 40,000 acres of native prairies that were once introduced monoculture pastures. It is the goal of the WHF to help restore 200,000 acres of native prairies for Bobwhite quail habitat and population growth.
Bamert Seed Company has been partnering with Jim and the WHF since 2010. Our partnership and friendship with Jim and the WHF developed out of our shared goals to restore and conserve native prairies. Bamert Seed Company has helped Jim and the WHF develop planting strategies and native blend diversity. Throughout the years as WHF’s program has grown, so has our partnership. Bamert Seed Company supplies the seed for WHF’s initiative with blends that create diversity; as well as making available WHF locally harvested seed.
John F. Kennedy once said that “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Jim Willis and the WHF have proven their leadership role in the preservation of the Bobwhite quail and their habitat.
For more inforamation regarding Jim Willis’ progress in restoring native prairies please visit the recent Houston Chronical article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/science-environment/article/Prairie-landowners-replant-to-make-room-for-quail-5928426.php?t=cc33b2e5e6b82edad4&cmpid=email-desktop#/0
For more information regarding the Wildlife Habitat Federation, please visit their website at: www.whf-texas.org
[avatar user=”Rhett Kerby” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhettkerby” target=”_blank”]by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.[/avatar]
Have you ever driven by a roadside construction area and all there is bare ground? Maybe you have driven through oil country and saw a long wide stretch of bare ground where a pipeline has just been installed. Do you ever ask yourself “Why don’t they plant something on that?” Well, the truth is most companies who are involved in land disturbing practices actually do go back and reclaim the land.
Companies are using native grass seeding to help stabilize the soil, reduce erosion, and to have a natural look. Many companies are going back to the job sites and restoring the land with native grasses. Although a lush landscape is not instantaneous, most of, if not all reclamation projects are dryland planted and depend on Mother Nature to provide all the necessary rainfall for establishment and growth.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture definitely captured a successful reclamation project. Planted is a blend of Blue Grama, Sand Dropseed, Fourwing Saltbush, Mexican Hat, and Sideoats, located near the Las Cruces, New Mexico area.
Bamert Seed Company would like to help your company on your next project!
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Switchgrass, a perennial warm season grass that is central to the North American tallgrass prairie, is commonly grown by farmers for foraging and livestock purposes. In the last few years, there has also been a growing interest in using switchgrass as an energy crop.
Researchers have begun to recognize the importance of switchgrass as a viable biomass crop for the production of ethanol, on top of its soil conservation and game cover qualities. From the usage of sawdust and woodchips for biofuel, research and initiatives are now looking to tap into cellulosic ethanol, specifically from switchgrass, because of its multi-purpose potential.
Corn-based ethanol, which is the traditional choice, only produces roughly the same amount of energy required to raise it, which makes it a costly energy crop especially when weather conditions and overall plant management are less than ideal. Compared with corn, the energy that switchgrass is able to produce is significantly more relative to the energy needed to produce it.
For every acre of land planted with switchgrass seed, it is estimated to yield 500 gallons of ethanol. Switchgrass, which is a perennial and doesn’t have to be replanted every year, can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season depending on growing conditions. As a cash crop, it can be cut or grazed for forage early in the season then harvested for biofuel later in the season.
Generally speaking, switchgrass is able to adapt to a variety of soils and growing conditions but is most productive on sandy to clay loam soils. It grows quickly, with its roots being able to reach deeply into the soil for water—which helps prevent soil erosion during the winter—and it can stand as high as 10 feet, possessing thick and strong stems full of converted solar energy.
If you’re looking for high quality switchgrass seed for sale, call us here at Bamert Seed Company. 90% of the seeds we sell are produced on our farms; therefore, one can rest assured that strict quality control measures are in place.
For inquiries on our switchgrass seed or other native grass seed, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-262-9892. You may also visit our Plant Library on our website for more information on switchgrass, or read our How to Guide to learn more about how to plant native seeds.