Pollinator Habitat in Kentucky
Larry Burton of Adair County has developed a field border that is a thriving habitat for pollinators and adds beauty to his farm. Through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), he has implemented field borders and restoration and management of declining habitats practices around the crop fields.
Pollinator habitats are a great benefit to wildlife. Bobby Paul Northington from Ballard County, Kentucky is committed to enhancing pollinator habitat on his 210 acre farm. He enrolled 48 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and installed filter strips and field borders. The entire 48 acres is established in native warm season grasses and forbs.
Northington also applied for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in 2010 and since that time he has worked diligently on the 15 fields that make up 118 acres of cropland. Every fall he leaves several rows of unharvested grain crops standing in the field for winter food for wildlife. He plants cover crops of wheat. Grassed waterways are established in fescue but most are bordered by Side Oats Grama, Little Bluestem, and Virginia Wild Rye. Ponds and wildlife watering holes are scattered throughout the farm. He mows the field borders in strips no more than once every two years which maintains good habitat and escape cover for wildlife.
Leaving old fence rows and patches of trees is how Northington separates the fields, but more importantly it is his way of providing cover and safe travel corridors for wildlife.
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Southern Conservation Corps. in Harrison County has established a very nice wildlife conservation cover. The establishment of native warm season grasses and forbs gets better every year according to District Conservationist Georganne Wiltse. Wiltse said, "On our last visit, there were a variety of pollinators, but we also spooked up a covey of quail, as well as turkey and deer."
Pictured are Zach Danks and Randall Alcorn, biologists with the Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).
The primary goal for Ohio County Farmer Jay Langston when he enrolled 40.5 acres of his land into continuous CRP was to attract more wildlife, in particular the northern bobwhite quail. The field border he installed nearly three years ago is now fully established with native grasses, purple coneflower, Illinois bundleflower, partridge pea and blackeyed susan. The establishment has become a great habitat for both wildlife and pollinators.
Sandra Voils and her son Clint of Russell County are improving pollinator habitat on their farm through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The program assists them with restoring and managing declining habitats around their crop fields. This beautiful field border reduces erosion at the edge of the field, protects water quality by trapping sediment and other pollutants, and provides wildlife and pollinator habitat.
Establishing beautiful pollinator plots and warm season grasses takes time, but after a couple years the plants begin to thrive and the color display on the forbs is beautiful. The pollinator and wildlife population has increased on this land in Warren County, Kentucky thanks to the forb and warm season grass plantings that were part of a Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) plan three years ago.
Lead District Conservationist Tim Bartee said that there are over 12,000 acres of pollinator habitat plantings in the county that were part of either the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) or CSP. "Our field office staff fields three to four calls daily concerning wildlife plantings, weed control, and strip disking and spraying (all part of mid-contract management)." He continued, "Purple coneflower, Illinois bundleflower, partridge pea, lanceleaf coreopsis, little bluestem, sideoats grama, Virginia wild rye are not the typical plant species that you will hear many farmers ask questions about, but plant identification and weed control are common questions in Warren County."