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Establishment of Seeded Grasslands for Wildlife Habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region

by

Harold F. Duebbert
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
P.O. Box 1747
Jamestown, North Dakota 58401

Erling T. Jacobson
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Soil Conservation Service
P.O. Box 1458
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501

Kenneth F. Higgins
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

Erling B. Podoll
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Soil Conservation Service


Abstract

Techniques are described for establishment of seeded grasslands on cultivated soils to provide wildlife habitat within the glaciated prairie pothole region in the north-central United States. Management of grassland habitats on a sound ecological basis is an important wildlife management activity in the region. The primary purpose of the guidelines in this publication is to help managers establish and maintain good stands of seeded cover for waterfowl nesting and use by other prairie wildlife. Several options are available for selecting a type of cover to be established.

The following seeded grassland types are described: (1) introduced cool-season grasses and legumes; (2) tall, warm-season native grasses; and (3) mixed-grass prairie grasses. Major vegetative species recommended for (1) are tall wheatgrass (Agropyron elongatum), intermediate wheatgrass (A. intermedium), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and sweetclover (Melilotus spp.); for (2) are big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum); for (3) are green needlegrass (Stipa viridula), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), western wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii), and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula).

Important factors that affect the success of establishment of seeded grasslands include site adaptability, site preparation, seedbed preparation, planting equipment and methods, rates and dates of seeding, and seed sources. A management goal for seeded grasslands intended to provide optimum habitat for dabbling duck nesting should be to maintain vigorous stands of vegetation with the tallest, most dense cover form that is possible under prevailing soil and climatic conditions. Grassland management is a never-ending job and seeded grasslands require periodic rejuvenation to maintain them in an optimum condition. Prescribed burning and planned grazing systems are acceptable methods for periodically rejuvenating seeded native grasses. Stands of introduced grasses and legumes are best maintained by mechanical tillages; reseeding is often necessary after 1 or 2 years of grain farming.

The need for good management of all areas dedicated to wildlife habitat is emphasized by the rate of destruction and degradation of grassland habitats. Desirable wildlife populations can be benefited by establishment and maintenance of high-quality stands of seeded grasslands.


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 0462):
Duebbert, Harold F., Erling T. Jacobson, Kenneth F. Higgins, and Erling B. 
     Podoll.  1981.  Establishment of seeded grasslands for wildlife habitat 
     in the Prairie Pothole Region.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Special 
     Scientific Report, Wildlife No. 234.  21pp.  
This resource should be cited as:
Duebbert, Harold F., Erling T. Jacobson, Kenneth F. Higgins, and Erling B. 
     Podoll.  1981.  Establishment of seeded grasslands for wildlife habitat 
     in the Prairie Pothole Region.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Special 
     Scientific Report, Wildlife No. 234.  
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/tools/grasland/index.htm
     (Version 16JUL97).

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