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Range Planting Time is Here

Range Planting Time Is Here!!!!

By Timothy R. Miller, Rangeland Management Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Manhattan, Kansas

It is time to start thinking about planting native grasses. You can ask yourself this question: Do I have an area that the crops are just not being productive? Some pieces of land just should have never been taken out of native range.

This is the time to start thinking about planting areas of your property back into native range. A native range consists of a wide variety of species. Warm season grasses such as Indiangrass, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, and sideoats grama. There can also be cool-season grasses, legumes, and various wildflowers should be considered. Native range is quite diverse and can actually have as many as 500 species of plants. We cannot recreate a native rangeland but can restore many of the native plants.

The time for planting is coming up. If you want to plant native grasses you can start planting them December 1 and finish up May 15. The optimum time to plant native grasses is March 15 to May 15. You might ask yourself, “Why plant native grass?” Well, there are more reasons than just for grazing. Grasses themselves are great for conservation practices, but they can do even more than that. Consider what a native grass planting can create for you:

  1. First, you will be restoring the native plant community. It will be low maintenance once the native range has been established. Warm-season grasses are adapted to this area and require only good management to persist. No fertilizer inputs are needed.
  2. Native range plantings provide quality forages for livestock during warm summer months. We can also adjust the native planting to meet your intended use. Many people believe tame pasture such as brome, fescue, and bermudagrass are more productive due to higher potential stocking rate. That might be true, but you must consider the fertilizer inputs needed on tame pasture.
  3. These native grass areas are also beneficial to the local wildlife. Along with the grasses, you could put in some specific forbs that would enhance the wildlife even more. These areas would then provide food as well as cover for the wildlife. Before we even start planting, you can decide on what type of wildlife you really would like to see. Then you can plant to promote for the wildlife you wish to support and/or see.
  4. Native grasses will also reduce erosion by water and wind and improve soil quality. You will not need to pay for those repairs on any of your waterways or terraces if you have native grasses planted in those unproductive croplands.
  5. Native grasses also improve water quality and quantity. For example, if you are farming right up to a creek, and you plant grass adjacent to this creek to act as a buffer, then the grass will help reduce pollutants that enter the creek from your fields.

So, you see there are some good reasons for you to plant native grass this next growing season for any type of operation.

If you have any questions about native grasses, please contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or conservation district office located at your local county U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.