Growers in Michigan can make small changes in their agricultural practices to conserve grassland birds, according to the newest publication by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
The 22-page book, "Agricultural Practices that Conserve Grassland Birds," provides an overview of conservation practices that can be implemented to benefit grassland birds and other wildlife while sustaining or enhancing agricultural production.
"This effort is a great example of how landowners can help preserve our state's biodiversity without impeding their ability to use their land as they see fit," says Brian Klatt, director of the MNFI.
The MNFI is a program of Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.
Michigan's grasslands, including hay fields, pastures and idle fields, can provide valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife, especially grassland birds, which have suffered severe population declines. Several factors can result in reduction of suitable nesting habitat, death of birds and loss of nests.
Beginning in 2009, the DNR Wildlife Division provided cost-share and technical support to farmers willing to incorporate conservation practices on their land such as delayed mowing and grazing, planting warm-season grasses, use of flushing bars, mowing from the inside out, rotational mowing and removal of invading brush. The MNFI monitored the vegetation and grassland birds at several sites and conducted a producer opinion survey to solicit feedback from farmers who tried these practices. Their experiences are reported in the guide, along with a list of resources for those interested in learning more.
Funding for this guide was provided by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
A copy of this booklet is available for free (shipping charges apply) from the MSUE Bookstore (www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu). The product number is E3109. Additionally, a pdf version of the publication is available for download from the MNFI website.
For more information, contact Daria A. Hyde, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-373-4815, OR Eileen Gianiodis, ANR Communications, email@example.com, 517-432-1555, ext. 230