There is a reoccurring conversation that we seem to have with clients. “I want to bring quail back to my property. What do you think of this single and specific species?” The typical reply is something along the lines of… “It depends on what vegetation is currently established and how dense is it? Typically, most are starting from either what is or what will be bare ground, or, old conservation projects. Regardless of where you start, there is not one magical species that will bring all the birds in the world in. Habitat, diversity, moisture, and most of all patience, these are the things that bring in the birds.

‘So we are creating upland habitat, you need bunchgrasses and forbs!’

Initial use of native, drought-tolerant bunchgrasses is the best place to start. These grasses provide a nesting area that is secluded and insulated from the elements. These grasses are used as a sheltering component within the habitat. Once the grass species mature, they create a natural canopy between each plant. This provides predation cover as well as helping to regulate the soil temperature. The regulation of soil temperature is mutually beneficial to the animal, plant, insect and microbial species within the local ecosystem. Secondly, the vegetation coverage helps retain moisture by limiting the amount of evaporation that occurs due to extreme soil temperatures. The area being vegetated also increases the water infiltration rate of the soil, reducing erosion during dramatic rainfall events. During these rainfall events, the biomass of the grasses slows down the rate at which water contacts the ground. This allows the soil to absorb as much water as possible while reducing water erosion. Lastly, vegetated soils create ideal soil health. The resulting soil health impacts create additional habitat for insects. The insects are a vital food source for new hatchlings. Mature birds will consume some level of insects as well.

Most of the areas that would create ideal upland habitat deal with drought to some degree. This again is why native bunchgrasses are ideal for upland habitat. These grasses have dense expansive roots system that can reach depths greater than 10 feet in some cases. These root systems allow the plant to collect moisture and nutrients from deep within the soil, even in times of drought. The grasses abilities to withstand times of drought also prevent wind erosion from occurring. Wind erosion can be just as destructive as water erosion in some parts of the country, especially in times of drought. The root system that allows the plants to survive drought also provides stability to the soil, reducing wind and water erosion during storm events.

The density of these bunchgrasses can heavily influence the quality of your habitat. Historically these habitats have been created within old or expiring conservation projects. The density of the plantings within the projects are conservative in most cases. Pertaining to upland habitat specifically, this may be better than a retired hay meadow. Too great of a density of bunchgrasses prevents the bird’s abilities to move, collect food, and avoid predators. A lack of plant density allows for erosion, higher soil temperatures, and a reduction in cover and nesting habitat. A generic rule of thumb of an ideal plant density would be to have an appearance of density from afar, yet once you walk through the area you could place your foot between the grass bunches and possibly see a small amount of soil. This could vary dramatically in your specific area. Striking a balance between plant density and erosion is key.

When creating habitat from bare soil, patience and time to allow the area to vegetatively mature should hold high regard. Planting rates will generally vary between conservation and reclamation rates. Many areas require between 3 to 5 years of successful plant establishment to have a useable habitat from bare soil. This time frame may seem drastic to some, though it’s normally as quick, or quicker than creating habitat within an existing plant community.

The secret that’s not so secret… A diversity of forbs.

Forbs are a major food source for game birds and wildlife in general. Forbs in an upland habitat should be largely perennial, native and drought-tolerant. Annual and bi-annual forbs may be a wise addition to the perennial forbs is some areas as well.

When planting forbs into existing native grasses, an overseeding of forbs may be all that is needed to attract upland birds and wildlife. As well, some habitats may benefit from an overseeding of forbs every 3-5 years. This figure may vary due to environmental conditions, weather patterns, and management of the area. If the area chosen for habitat has dense vegetation or brush, major management of the density more than likely will be needed to create the desired habitat.

A diversity of forbs in a habitat historically attracts more wildlife, regardless of the desired or targeted species. Each species of forbs has a different bloom period and helps maintain a food source throughout the seasons. Typically 6 or more forbs in an area is ideal. This allows for at least 2 different species per bloom period. Ideally, 8 to 12 species is desirable. This allows for some overlap in bloom periods and more variety of food source.

A notable secondary benefit of forb diversity is the utilization of these plants by pollinators. The benefits of pollinator species within a habitat can be dramatic. Pollinator species utilize forbs for their own habitat. As well as participating as predators and pray for other species of insects and animals. The plant species benefit from pollinator presences as well. Pollinators play a critical role in the long-term, continued reproduction of forbs.

Quail are often viewed as a key performance indicator to the quality of an areas habitat. Historical data indicates, as the quilty and diversity of vegetation decreases, upland birds are some of the first species to be affected.

Article credit:  Colby F. Scroggins – Reclamation Specialist at Bamert Seed Company.

Photo credit: Barry Coker, Ricky Linex, and Bamert Seed Company.


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/

 

 

[avatar user=”Rhett Kerby” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhettkerby” target=”_blank”]by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.[/avatar]


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.

 

[avatar user=”Rhett Kerby” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhettkerby” target=”_blank”]by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.[/avatar]


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that a new Conservation Reserve Program, CP33, has been put into place to encourage the further development of ground-nesting bird habitat on established irrigated farmlands. This new program will focus on the corners of center-pivot irrigation systems which have historically been ineligible for CRP, as these acres were not connected with a linear strip of grassland. The purpose of this program is to convert pivot corners into grass buffers, in turn creating greater habitat for upland birds and other species. The goal of this program is to create up to 500,000 acres of habitat for dependent birds, such as quail, mourning dove, wild turkey, meadowlarks, bobolinks, and several sparrow species. The creation of this new program will help in the establishment of nesting and brood-rearing habitat, in turn leading to an approximate increase of bobwhite quail by over 1 million birds annually. Not only will this program hope to increase the bobwhite quail population but it will also benefit reptiles, amphibians, and other upland birds; some of which are under consideration for the endagered species list. Although this program is focused on increasing multiple wildlife habitats, it will also be beneficial to the field profile as well. By moving these corners into grasses it will help reduce soil erosion from wind and rain, increase soil/water quality, as well as improving the ecosystem of the farmland. The new program will include the establishment of native warm-season grasses, forbs, legumes, and wildflowers, as well as shrubs and tree species.

But what does this new program mean to landowners who enroll? This program provieds landowners the opportunity to move their costly corners into a source of income. Input costs for maintaining corners in regards to weed control, seed, fertilizer, etc will be replaced by establishing native grasses; of which 90% of the cost of grass establishment will be paid by the USDA. After establishment an annual per acre payment will be paid to the landowner, this varies from county to county. Therefore, these once uproductive, costly corners can now become profitable!

For more information on the new CP33 Program check out the FSA link below.

http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?mystate=tx&area=stnewsroom&subject=stnr&topic=landing&newstype=stnewsrel&type=detail&item=stnr_tx_20150126_rel_319.html

2010 Quick - Draw Studios Pictures 007_compressed

 

 

[avatar user=”Rhett Kerby” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhettkerby” target=”_blank”]by Rhett K. Kerby, M.S.[/avatar]


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]


A perennial mid-height grass found in a variety of habitats such as meadows, rocky slopes, and mountainous plateaus, Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) derives its name from the way its seeds grow on the sides of the stalk which makes it look like oats. This grass type has become a popular choice among growers because of its thin, long leaves that makes for excellent foraging for livestock and wildlife alike.

Sideoats Grama grass can tolerate drought and dry soils. It is a deep-rooted perennial, that produces high quality forage which makes it ideal for foraging. The grass type features zigzag stalks with evenly spaced spikes, and is commonly used as animal fodder material due to its medium protein content which is highly palatable for grazing animals. It is considered as nutritious forage for all classes of livestock, from elk and deer to birds and even wild turkey.

The tiny flowers of Sideoats Grama typically come in either orange or purple, but may also come in hues of orange or red. This prairie grass is able to withstand the full heat of the sun with little water and can even be grown as turf grass. This grass type is best cultivated in grass mixes for range and pasture seeding along with Blue Grama or Buffalograss to provide optimal erosion control. It is also recommended for earth fills and recreational plantings because it may be planted in dry to average soils that drain well. Additionally, it may be used for ornamental purposes because of its blue-green foliage.

Since Sideoats Grama grass can thrive in many kinds of soil and different climates, managing this grass type is easy as long as you know what season to use it in. While it is a tri-seasonal grass, it still grows best during the summer and fall, but its grass stays palatable for animals even in winter. This makes it a flexible range grass species. It is also well adapted to calcareous and moderately alkaline soils. Under favorable conditions, it can quickly restore eroded grasslands.

Bamert Seed offers high quality Sideoats Grama seeds you can use to plant forage for all classes of grazing livestock as well as wildlife. For any inquiries about this native grass seed and our other available options, feel free to contact us. We produce over 90% of our seeds right here on our farms, so you can be assured that our seeds are of the highest quality.

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