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.”
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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.
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.
Sometimes while driving down the road we pass a vehicle that just stands out and grabs our attention. Or maybe you’re involved in stock showing and it’s not only the truck that stands out, but the trailer they are towing behind them. Be on the look out for our new truck and trailer on the road, as we go delivering seed or head off to a show. So if you happen to see us just passing through your town, state, or county; give us a shout out.
The little girl saw her grandpa standing on the balcony and ran up to him. “Papa what are you looking at?” the little girl asked.
Hands that had seen many years of work reached down and picked up the little girl. “My darling angel, I’m looking at yours and mine future. Do you see it out there?”
Laughing the little girl responded “But Papa our future is not out there. That is just grass and vines.”
“No my darling it is so much more. Those vines are what produce the best tasting wine in the states. And that grass there helps those vines, by helping the soil to remain fertile for the New Year.” The old man explained. He looked out over the balcony and the rolling hills of green grass and lush vines that moved with the gentle blow of the wind, as if the waves of the ocean gently caressed them. Looking down at the little girl he smiled because he knew that one day she would understand the importance of the land and how to care for it.
Agriculture production of all types is a very essential way of life. Weather it is producing food, wine, wildlife enhancements, or conservation. Agriculture is and will always be a way of life for the world. In order for agriculture to succeed we must be stewards of the land. As the old man knew that one day the little girl would understand the importance of the land and how to care for it, we all must become familiar with it.
In the Texas panhandle the past couple of years have been tough on the agricultural community because of the recent droughts. Sales Professional Pat Pearson understands this and that is why she chose Buffalograss as her favorite native plant. The reasons below are why Buffalograss is her favorite.
Buffalograss is a native, warm-season stoloniferous perennial. It is a short growing grass that requires little maintenance.
Buffalograss is true to its drought consistent nature. Pat has customers tell her that well water applications were significantly reduced by planting Buffalograss in their yard.
It is an important factor in the shortgrass prairies for range grazing by both wildlife and livestock.
Buffalograss is not only used for rangelands, but for landscaping as well because of its short plant height and low maintenance.
In landscaping having grasses that will remain greener longer with less care is important. And Buffalograss is the grass to go with since varieties like Topgun were bred to stay greener longer than other grass.
Let us look to the future of agriculture and the generations to come after us. Continue to learn to be better stewards of the land in all ways possible. Let us be the grandfather of the little girl and know that it is up to us to ensure that future generations learn the importance of the land and how to care for it. Wendell Berry once said “…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of if, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”