New Land - Habitat/CRP Questions

SDinWI

New member
Hello all,

I've been a lurker to the forum for a while but recently bought 65 acres in WI and wanted to join in on the action.

The property is 35 acres tillable and 30 in wetlands (cattails, shrubby cover, some reed canary grass/goldenrod/weeds, willows). Around the neighborhood is large ag crop fields (corn, soybean) and a mix of thick shrub cover, reed canary grass, and cattails. There is also a close-by neighbor with 100 acres in CRP - it might be decent nesting/brood cover, but it doesn't hold up in winter. My property holds quite a few birds for WI - I saw 10 the other day and regularly see them around. All in all, the habitat is there for the birds. Like my username says, I want to add more to the mix and have a little bit of SD-like hunting in WI.

So, I'm thinking of putting most of the tillable into CRP and keeping a couple acres for winter food (ideally rooster booster or something similar). I've been in contact with my local Farm Bill Biologist about putting the tillable into CRP after a year. I'd like to do a 50/50 split or so of a brood-focused mix and a grassy heavier mix of switch/BB/Indian that can withstand snow. Does anyone have any practices/mixes they've used that they like? Pictures are appreciated - bit easier to see images of different seed mixes vs reading the mix components/percentages and all.

Thinking of adding some winter windbreak cover near the food/cattails as well. Recommendations? Anyone have experience with dwarf alberta spruce?

Excited to start the journey - appreciate any insight!
 

dustin mudd

Active member
Sounds like you have found a little piece of heaven. You should get great local advice from the pf fbb, whom you contacted. Any chance you have cattle operating close . Pheasants do great in winter near feed lots! Good luck!
 

SDinWI

New member
No cattle nearby-that would help this time of year. Wishing this freezing cold and deep snow would make a change for the better. The property has good winter cover, but -30 or so wind chill and deep snow is tough either way.
 

Miforester

Well-known member
Sounds like a great piece of property. Referencing trees, I would work with local biologist as suggested, i would recommend sticking with native conifers that keep their lower branches. Not sure if WI has local Conservations District offices that they would be helpful in offering suggestions for windbreak species. I would recommend a mixture of conifer and soft mast trees so the birds have a food source within the windbreak as well. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
 

Goosemaster

Well-known member
Hello all,

I've been a lurker to the forum for a while but recently bought 65 acres in WI and wanted to join in on the action.

The property is 35 acres tillable and 30 in wetlands (cattails, shrubby cover, some reed canary grass/goldenrod/weeds, willows). Around the neighborhood is large ag crop fields (corn, soybean) and a mix of thick shrub cover, reed canary grass, and cattails. There is also a close-by neighbor with 100 acres in CRP - it might be decent nesting/brood cover, but it doesn't hold up in winter. My property holds quite a few birds for WI - I saw 10 the other day and regularly see them around. All in all, the habitat is there for the birds. Like my username says, I want to add more to the mix and have a little bit of SD-like hunting in WI.

So, I'm thinking of putting most of the tillable into CRP and keeping a couple acres for winter food (ideally rooster booster or something similar). I've been in contact with my local Farm Bill Biologist about putting the tillable into CRP after a year. I'd like to do a 50/50 split or so of a brood-focused mix and a grassy heavier mix of switch/BB/Indian that can withstand snow. Does anyone have any practices/mixes they've used that they like? Pictures are appreciated - bit easier to see images of different seed mixes vs reading the mix components/percentages and all.

Thinking of adding some winter windbreak cover near the food/cattails as well. Recommendations? Anyone have experience with dwarf alberta spruce?

Excited to start the journey - appreciate any insight!
Plant Russian olive trees, and corn.
 

Miforester

Well-known member
Plant Russian olive trees, and corn.
I would stay away from invasive species like russian and autumn olive. They will spread like fire and can take over open areas and is very tough to control once it gets establish. Stick with species native to Wisconsin.
 

SDinWI

New member
Sounds like a great piece of property. Referencing trees, I would work with local biologist as suggested, i would recommend sticking with native conifers that keep their lower branches. Not sure if WI has local Conservations District offices that they would be helpful in offering suggestions for windbreak species. I would recommend a mixture of conifer and soft mast trees so the birds have a food source within the windbreak as well. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Thanks, it's really a unique find in the area. I was thinking something like white spruce and a mix of nine bark/dogwood/plum/highbush cranberry. I know the whites can get pretty large, so I was looking into something that might be less of a perch spot for raptors. Might be best to reach out to a local biologist like you mentioned on that.
 

cyclonenation10

Active member
Sounds like the winter cover is there, and the best thing you can probably do is focus on establishing high quality CRP for nesting/brood rearing. I would also look at cutting any trees that could serve as potential perch sites for hawks/owls. That 100 acres of CRP nearby is a blessing, and whether or not it holds up in the snow it should produce a lot of birds in the Spring - and the cattails and other winter cover around sounds like plenty to support the birds when the weather turns in the winter.
 

remy3424

Well-known member
Congrats on the land acquisition! Merry Christmas to you! I like the shrubs you listed. Talk with the biologist about the conifers that will do best in your area. If there is a local PF chapter, join it, go to their banquet, network, meet the directors and their habitat guy, they will be helpful (man-power, equipment, food plot seed, maybe discounted or cost-share on trees/shrubs and suggestions for setting it up). It looks like they have 32 chapters in WS, so they might not be right in your backyard.
 

Miforester

Well-known member
The key to your property and managementvis looking to what piece of the habitat puzzle is missing in your area. As other have mentioned the neighboring CRP will provide some of the puzzle an you can try to fill in what you can.
 

SDinWI

New member
All good suggestions. I do think brood rearing cover is something missing from the landscape - would love to add some diversity with forbs/little bluestem to the land.
I stopped by recently and was happy to see a dozen or more birds out and about after all the tough weather we’ve been having.
 

sdviking

Member
I'm a big fan of Elderberry bushes, Here in SD they can grow 8 feet tall in three years, they sustain deer well and pheasants love the berries. Plante a lot of seaberry last year so we will find out this year if that was a good idea or not.
 

SDinWI

New member
I'm a big fan of Elderberry bushes, Here in SD they can grow 8 feet tall in three years, they sustain deer well and pheasants love the berries. Plante a lot of seaberry last year so we will find out this year if that was a good idea or not.
Good to hear! That's another one I was looking at adding.

Where does everyone get their shrub/trees from? Seems I missed the boat this year on getting them from the program through the DNR. Nurseries are much more expensive, so I might just wait until this upcoming fall's DNR offering.
 

sdviking

Member
We have a few new areas we want to plant to evergreens and bushes based on how hard this winter is effecting the pheasants here. But we didn't prepare the ground this past fall. I highly recommend preparing the ground this spring, kill the weeds and plant to a cover crop like sorghum or millet to push out the other weeds then till in the next spring and get the trees in. Site prep just makes the job alot easier for weed control. Just an idea Oh and there are generally four funding options.
1. GFP will pay if you put in 12 rows, but thats a lot of space and time to water and maintain.
2 CRP allows trees to be planted and cost share was around 75% But there are rules you have to follow.
3. Conservation Districts sometimes have grant money which provides around 50% cost share.
4. You Pay and do what ever you want.
 

birddude

Well-known member
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think reed canary grass is pretty much worthless plus it's pretty aggressive. Other than that, with good suggestions from the guys above sounds like you're on the right track!! Good luck!
 

SDinWI

New member
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think reed canary grass is pretty much worthless plus it's pretty aggressive. Other than that, with good suggestions from the guys above sounds like you're on the right track!! Good luck!
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of it but it's only in a handful of acres luckily. Sounds like it's a beast to try to get rid of
 
Top