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Disc to Give Wildlife a New Food Source

Disc to Give Wildlife a New Food Source

What’s the easiest, cheapest way to provide food and cover to hungarian partridges, pheasants, turkeys, songbirds, and other wildlife? Disc.

Discing disturbs the soil to promote the growth of new, smaller plants that young birds can move through safely and easily. The new plants then offer seeds and draw insects that young birds need. CAUTION: If there are noxious weeds or other undesirable species, then you won’t want to disc in that area.

Creating a disc plot. While it’s easy to disc an area and create the plot, it will pay to consider where you can get the most good from it. Locate a place next to some good permanent cover, such as a brushy fence row, woodlot, or near brushy areas along a stream or pond.

You could disc in either spring or fall. However, fall discing is better in that it will help set seeds from sunflowers, lambsquarters, and other plants that offer quality seeds to birds.

Monitor, disc again. Watch the plot over the next few years. You will want to disc again, likely in three years, when it looks like the plot isn’t producing much seed.

If you have several plots, you can rotate the discing schedule so you disturb at least one of the plots each year, or part of a plot each year. The diversity of plants offered with various stages of growth after discing will be better for wildlife.

Strip disc grasslands. Light discing provides more insects and desirable seeds at a lower cost than planting food plots. It is also an excellent way to enhance grassland habitat for pheasants and songbirds.

If you have large non-native grassland fields with dense sod dominated by a single species, you have a good candidate for strip discing. Do not disc native rangeland.

Light contour discing of 25-foot to 75-foot wide strips, separated by strips of undisturbed grass that are at least twice as wide, gives the best of both worlds to wildlife. The disced areas produce forbs and legumes which produce seeds and attract insects. The undisced area will provide nesting cover.

For more information about conservation practices that can improve wildlife habitat on your land, stop at the local NRCS office.

Wildlife Ways

Did you know....
A habit pheasants and other birds seem to enjoy is called dusting. They scratch a small bowl in the ground, leaving a few inches of finely ground soil to dry. They periodically bury their breast in the bowl of the “dust bath” and shower dust across their backs with their beaks and feet.


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Specification 645: Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (PDF; 191 KB)