Establishment of seeded grasslands for wildlife habitat in the prairie pothole region

Special Scientific Report - Wildlife 234

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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.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Establishment of seeded grasslands for wildlife habitat in the prairie pothole region
Series title:
Special Scientific Report - Wildlife
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
21 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Prairie pothole region