Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|46i. Drift Plains||Level IV Ecoregion|
|The Northern Glaciated Plains
ecoregion is characterized by a flat to gently rolling landscape
composed of glacial drift. The subhumid conditions foster a grassland
transitional between the tall and shortgrass prairie. High concentrations
of temporary and seasonal wetlands create favorable conditions for duck
nesting and migration. Though the till soil is very fertile, agricultural
success is subject to annual climatic fluctuations.
On the Drift Plains, the retreating Wisconsinan glaciers left a subtle undulating topography and a thick mantle of glacial till. A greater proportion of temporary and seasonal wetlands are found on the drift plains than in the coteau areas, where semipermanent wetlands are numerous. Because of the productive soil and level topography, this ecoregion is almost entirely cultivated, with many wetlands drained or simply tilled and planted. However, valuable waterfowl habitat still remains, concentrated in state and federally sponsored duck production areas. The historic grassland on the Drift Plains was a transitional mix of tallgrass and shortgrass prairie. The prairie grasses have been largely replaced by fields of spring wheat, barley, sunflowers, and alfalfa.
Area (square miles): 15609
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Western wheatgrass, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, and indiangrass.
Land Use and Land Cover
Extensively tilled to spring wheat and other small grains, sunflowers, and alfalfa.