Friday, December 16, 2022

More on the former CRP plot


The image shown above is one section through the former CRP plot at the hunting lease. The horizontal distance of this particular slice is about 600 feet. The prevailing wind direction is from left-to-right. There are mature trees in the bottom of the depression (drainage) where the vertical hash-mark is. There are also mature trees to the left of the section.

The topsoil at the highest elevation is not very deep. The flatter area just to the right of the highest elevation is bowl-like in 3-D and sheltered from the wind.

Grass species are variable. Probably more Kentucky Bluegrass than anything else with some Tall Fescue, Orchard grass and Reed Canary grass. After more than twenty years in CRP much of the property has been taken over by various goldenrod species and Monarda, especially where the soil is eroded.

The canopy percentage of nitrogen fixing plants is in the very-low, single digits. One objective would be to increase that metric into the low double-digits. Frost-seeding medium red-clover or birdsfoot trefoil into the the 2-3 plots at the start of the mowing cycle would be one way to achieve that.

Baptisia, Lespedeza, Astragalus, Desmodium and others are native, nitrogen-fixing prairie plants.

Sawtooth Sunflower

Maximilian Sunflower

Another objective is to increase the percentage of canopy that is held by perennials that produce persistent, high energy seeds. Examples include perennial sunflowers like Maximilian and Sawtooth Sunflowers.

Prairie Moon Nursery has a very handy species selection tool. Example. Set the flags and it spits out your choices.


  1. Your gonna need lime. Woody

    1. Likely. And P and K where the topsoil is thinnest.

      I am inherently lazy. I will broadcast and let it diffuse. The good news is that frost-seeded seeds will be in the lime-rich, higher-pH region right from the get-go.

  2. Mowing and low impact grazing make a surprising difference in a year or two. In the spring, I leave 10' islands in my pasture where I see or suspect bird nests, and an 8' strip if there is chicks about, for cover. Much drier climate, and our birds are hatched out by mid June for the most part. Cows, birds, deer all like vetch patches. Good forage, good for pollinators, and seed for the birds to munch on later

    1. Lmao, my neighbors think I'm crazy... I get a TON of creeping charlie, clover, and dead nettle in the front area, and when its in bloom, positively buzzes. I do have a beehive (or two or three) on the property, so assume they're my girls, but who knows.
      When I mow that part, I mow it in alternating strips. One pass, skip a width, another pass, skip... this way there is still some flowers, and when the mowed portion reblooms, I'll mow the skipped rows, and repeat until its all done blooming, or most of the summer. One guy actually stopped to ask WTF I was doing. They still don't entirely trust that yankee that moved in a few years back, LOLOLOLOL!

  3. Clover and alfalfa where you want to shoot, switch grass where you want cover and bedding + visual screen.

  4. I was going to suggest prairie moon, have used them before. Very low success rate with their seeds, however that could be operator error. I have a swale planted with the oat grass that I like quite a bit, as do the birds. Good in wet spots and for erosion. I can mail you all the seeds you want.
    There is a perennial yellow clover I got here:

    Blooms a very long time, tolerates mowing occasionally if you were going to bush-hog it twice a year or something. Excellent plant. Bees would not leave it alone all year. I till up a strip and plant it near my pasture garden to attract pollinators, its that good.
    The spuds there are pretty good, too (albeit pricey).

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