Join Eric Canania and Mark Rassmussen from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Jerry Clark from UW-Madison Division of Extension Chippewa County as they discuss the why and how to establish a wildlife food plot.
Cutting Edge: In Search of New Crops For Wisconsin
Episode 23: Wildlife Food Plots
Recorded May 7, 2021
Jerry Clark, Eric Canania, Mark Rassmussen, Carl Duley, Ashley Olson, JASON FISCHBACH
JASON FISCHBACH 00:00
This is a podcast about new crops, you’re gonna love it. Join us on the cutting edge, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin.
Eric Canania 00:11
Food plots are a rabbit hole discussion is easy for folks to get over their head sometimes. And, you know, that’s where Mark and I come into play. So I just really encourage folks who are wanting to start off on the right foot to give your local biologist a call.
Ashley Olson 00:43
Well, good afternoon, everyone and welcome to The Cutting Edge, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. I am your co host Ashley Olson, with the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension, and I serve as the agriculture educator in Vernon County. And joining me today as my other co host is Carl Duley, who is the agriculture agent in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. So Carl, we’re here today to talk about some wildlife food plots. Huh?
Carl Duley 01:12
Definitely. Last night I was out fertilizing some some research plots we have in oats and some deer came out of the woods to visit me about 7:30 and and I asked them not to eat my oat plots and they obliged and took off and and then way this morning as I got up the turkeys were gobbling. So things in the wildlife are are heating up or coming alive. And I appreciate them. I’m not a hunter or fisherman but I still appreciate wildlife. So it’s a little different topic today.
Ashley Olson 01:42
Definitely is and I’m with you, I definitely appreciate the wildlife. I live near Viroqua. And not only do we have plenty of deer, turkeys, we have lots of raccoons that I’ve seen as well. And so I’m interested to know today as we talk more about these wildlife food plots. What what kind of animals are we attracting to the food plots?
Carl Duley 02:07
I think between Mark and Eric our guests they’ll they’ll answer those questions and, and give us a variety. So we introduced ourselves. So let’s have our guests introduce themselves. And maybe we’ll start with Jerry Clark. He’s a well known name on our podcast and but he’s today is going to serve as a guest and as a guest expert.
Jerry Clark 02:28
Oh, thank you, Carl and Ashley. Yeah, little other side of the fence today being on the interview side of this. But yes, I am an agricultural educator with the Division of Extension UW Madison in Chippewa County serving in the agronomy crops and soils area for the last 23 years basically based out of Chippewa County worked out of Eau Claire for a little while, but have basically done a lot of work within agronomy and growing crops. So we grow things. And then Eric and Mark can tell us how to, you know, we try to keep things away from em I guess. And now they’re coming back. We’re trying to attract them in so little other side of the fence today. So appreciate the invite.
Carl Duley 03:07
And Mark Rasmussen is our guest from DNR. He is the wildlife and I don’t know if I’ll get your title correctly. And you can, you can state it yourself. But he’s here in Buffalo County with the DNR. So, Mark, Mark, if you’s introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about what you do and then maybe introduce our other guest, Eric?
Mark Rassmussen 03:27
Sure. Thanks, everybody. I’m Mark Rasmussen. I’m a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin DNR covering Buffalo and Trempealeau. County. I’m based out of Buffalo County, just like Carl been with the I’ve been with the department for almost 15 years now. And I’m going on eight here covering Buffalo and Trempealeau County in my current role. Yeah, and I just my job is pretty diverse if it has to do with wildlife in my two-county area, I’m at least somewhat involved, you know, both from the season setting process as well as I manage over 20,000 acres of public lands in those two counties for manage the habitats on those properties for wildlife and diversity. And then I also provide a role as a consultant to consulting with private landowners in my area who are interested in improving the wildlife habitat on their property. Eric?
Eric Canania 04:22
Yeah, thanks everybody for having me on. My name is Eric Canania. I am the Southern District deer biologist for the Wisconsin DNR out of the Dodgeville office and I cover 18 counties in a working unit. We call it the Southern District and pretty much the deer liason. So anything that has to do with deer, I usually facilitate that from the individual counties kind of going up to the top. I also do private lands work and help out mainly during the fall with CWD and other deer season logistics.
Carl Duley 04:56
I think there was one term that you just said, Eric, I don’t think we’re going there today but CWD. But let’s let’s talk about the other aspects of both deer and wildlife. And if I could, let’s talk a little bit about the philosophy of managing woodlots for wildlife in general versus kind of managing them for deer and for deer hunting. And Eric and Mark, whoever wants to take a stab at that.
Mark Rassmussen 05:22
I guess I can jump in to start I think, as it goes to woodlots. Really, management that is good for deer is going to benefit a lot of other wildlife. I mean, deer are a generalist species. Certainly there are there are some management activities that are less beneficial to deer, but pretty much anything you’re doing to improve the habitat quality of your your woodlands, whether that’s you know, timber harvest, or invasive species control or supplemental planning or anything like that is going to benefit deer as well as other wildlife species. But we can get into some more specifics as we move forward, I guess.
Eric Canania 05:58
Yeah, and just adding on to that like, like Mark said, deer are umbrella species. So kind of a trickle down effect. When you manage for deer, you’re going to benefit a bunch of other species and working quite a bit with private landowners in most cases, when you give them an option, or, you know, management practice that only benefit deer and nothing else versus a management practice that will benefit deer and a bunch of different things. Most landowners are eager to kind of go with the broad scale approach.
Ashley Olson 06:25
So when when kind of starting to talk about this, what is the difference then, because we’re talking about deer, but between a wildlife food plot versus a deer food plot. I know when I’m talking to a lot of different people, whether they’re neighbors, landowners, everyone says I got to plant my deer plot. But that’s not always the case. There are food plots for other animals and wildlife as well, correct?
Mark Rassmussen 06:56
Yeah, there certainly are. I mean, I think in general, any food plot you plant is going to get used by multiple species of wildlife. Just because, you know, they’re pretty much say like, clover is a popular food plot, everything basically eats clover. So there is that but you know, I tend to think that a lot of deer specific plots tend to be more monotypic individual species. And then if you’re going to be putting a food plot together, that’s going to be more beneficial for a wider array of species as well you’re going to generally be looking at planting a more diverse food plot.
Carl Duley 07:37
Okay, you mentioned species. Let’s talk a little bit about that. And, and maybe let’s start with Eric, if you’re going to plant a plot specifically for for, let’s say, for deer, let’s say we really, really into whitetail I’m really into hunting, what what kind of species are are planted versus what kind of species are really desirable in your in your opinions.
Eric Canania 08:02
I’m going to start off by giving the the famous biologist answer and it depends it’s really site to site specific conditions specific, you know, soils, weather, location, and not only in the state but in the country, deer density, habitat, surrounding habitat types, and just all those things really go into making a recommendation. So I think most things we’re talking about today probably be generalistic. And then, you know, interested individuals are always encouraged to reach out to their local professionals for kind of more site specific stuff, but in general terms, anything from your your grains, soy beans, corn, oats, wheat rye, down to a myriad of clovers, and you can get into specific species that are planted that aren’t very common like maybe iron clay cow peas, lab lab brassica, chicory, other things like that. There’s a ton of stuff out there and if you’ve been to any outdoor store, you’ve probably seen multiple racks full of different seed blends with you know, fancy lettering and big bucks on them.
Carl Duley 09:18
Jerry that gives you kind of an opening you want to hop in there the difference between the what you might see in a traditional wildlife store versus where you might find other places to buy something similar.
Jerry Clark 09:32
Yeah, and I’m with Eric on this where you I always find it interesting the the names of the the products that are out there with the seed blends from Buckmaster and Monster Buck or whatever that that is. So yeah, we usually see these blends pretty popular, they’re convenient to buy at some of the sporting goods stores, but you can often find these same seed mixes or if it is more of a monotype or if it is a mix of at your local Co Op that might be a third of the price if you’re looking for, like Mark and Eric said just the clover, it everything will eat clover, it’s pretty cheap to go to your local Co Op and get red clover for four bucks a pound versus maybe buying, you know, spending $30 for 10 pounds on on something that is pretty similar. If obviously, there’s mixes but you can have your local Co Op mix up certain blends for you if it’s grasses or grains like Eric was talking about, it’s pretty cheap to make a mix through a local dealer than versus going maybe to the sporting goods store and, and buying the fancy labeled stuff.
Mark Rassmussen 10:45
Yeah, one thing I would interject on is one thing I would avoid if you’re going to have mixtures is grass. You know you tend to see annual or perennial ryegrass is a pretty common filler in a lot of food plot mixes especially the ones you see, you know what the what the big bucks on the bag and oh, well it’s deer will eat it and other wildlife species will eat it, they’re not really preferred forage for pretty much anything. And so it can be a component of the of the mix if you really want it to be but it’s not something that I would you know, want to see a lot of in any kind of mix that’s not deer or most other wildlife species are going to focus on stuff that are coming from the the forbs side of the family.
Jerry Clark 11:30
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great point, Mark. I think the other thing to remind folks of is, check for, some of these can become weeds, like your perennial ryegrass and things like that, if this is to be an annual plot that you’re going to plan each year or you’re going to put clover in, or maybe a little alfalfa, something that’s a perennial, be careful of some of these mixes that you might buy, there could be an invasive species or it suddenly becomes a weed even though it may not be an invasive species, but it could be a problem in your, your woodland or your field down the road.
Eric Canania 12:04
Yeah, you know, some of those, those big names, they use stuff like that as fillers, but not to completely knock on them, they’re good. And you know, some regard, especially if you have small plots to plant, I’ve run into issues at some co ops where you can have a minimum or a minimum amount of seed that you can purchase. So that may lend itself to some things. And then there are also some like trademark name blends and specific name brand seeds that you can generally only buy in, in an outdoor store. But I think in most cases, folks could save a couple extra bucks and go with the brown bag.
Ashley Olson 12:43
And so are you. And this is a question for for any, anyone that’s on here today, recommending as we’re talking about some of these different species and blends. These food plots, are they annual or are they more perennial food plots when you’re looking at planting? You know, I’m new to new want to put in a wildlife food plot. What should I do?
Eric Canania 13:10
I can take a stab at that one too. And again, back to their famous wildlife answer, it depends, I think most cases you want to have a mix of annual and perennial. I think a lot of folks recently gravitate towards perennial because in theory, you can plant them and have them stay a viable for a number of years but that doesn’t mean you can just plant once and step away there’s herbicide application mechanical mowing applications and reseeding that does need to take place whereas annuals you plant them each year they have one growing cycle. So you do have to plant again and again but generally kind of the main difference is perennials put a focus on first year growth downwards so the root system, and less upwards where annuals not having to last more than a year focus growth up so you get a faster more vigorous growth that in most cases can out compete some of the common weeds so that can be a positive for for folks planting food plots as well.
Mark Rassmussen 14:14
Yeah a good thing to throw in any kind of mix especially if you are going to be trying to establish a perennial is oats because they I mean also pretty much grow on anything I mean the the dang near grow on pavement if they get some rain and and yeah, they can help really serve as a nurse crop and also take some of the forage pressure off of the other stuff, the perennial stuff you’re trying to establish and let that like Eric said, you know let that get established and send its and its growth downward not getting mowed down to the ground by the deer because they’re eating on the oats that have sprouted up above everything else.
Carl Duley 14:52
Yeah, I’m gonna I’m gonna throw this out to Jerry. I just bought a piece of property. I have 100 acres 20 Or let’s say 10 acres are open, the rest is wooded, and I want to put in some, I want to put in some wildlife food plots some deer plots and a combination we’ll hit. We’ll hit that continue on with this with Eric and Mark. But what’s my first step says, and I don’t know anything about growing crops.
Jerry Clark 15:18
Well, yeah, your first step is always a soil test. I think that’s where you want to, you know, get connected with your local county extension office. Almost every extension office within Wisconsin either has a connection or provides that service of soil bags, probes, those kind of things. And then whatever lab they are working with, or that’s local, many provide the mailers or you can you can work with your local Co Op as well, there’s usually some drop off points for soil testing, but number one is soil testing. The main thing there is looking for usually a basic soil test, I don’t think you don’t need all of the micronutrients and things like that for a deer plot or wildlife plot. But I think what you’re mainly looking for is to get the pH, which is the acidity of the soil, and then you’ll get some recommendations for your nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. And then that soil test comes with some recommendations that you can follow. It just helps I think the overall health of that food plot simply because if it is something like legumes, I know, cow peas were mentioned these kinds of things that are legumes, usually a pH of six three is needed. So if you have a very acidic soil, you’re going to need to apply lime, maybe a year ahead of time to get that ready. So if you’re seriously thinking about a food plot, plan at least six months to a year ahead, so you can have that fertility program up to speed the soil is ready when you’re ready to plant.
Carl Duley 16:50
Jerry, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t most of the labs actually have a category labeled wildlife plots or food plots or something like that now?
Jerry Clark 16:59
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great point, carl, they do. There is a form you’ll fill out along with that soil sample that you bring in. And there is a mark, a box on their wildlife food plot? Is it mainly grains? Is it legumes? Is that a mix of it depends on the lab and how many recommendations they provide on what the information you’re giving. So yeah, great, great question. Great point was that you can select what you’re going to be planting.
Carl Duley 17:27
Okay, well, let’s, let’s go on a little bit, I saw. And I think I sent this to everybody ahead of time that down in Iowa, they have a plan for food plots, and for wildlife, and they actually make a recommendation. And if you have so many acres of woods, how many acres of wildlife or food plot or deer plot should you have? Is there anywhere to go from there, Mark and Eric in Wisconsin?
Eric Canania 17:54
I’m not aware of anything like that, that we produce necessarily just kind of being an average of avid deer nerd, that’s kind of the general rule of thumb is three to 5%. But I think that’s it’s really generalistic it depends on a lot of factors. Especially if you’re adjacent to commercial agricultural fields that are providing supplemental nutrition as well. You know, you may not need as much. And I think it kind of lends itself to another topic that I wanted to hit on that food plots are supplemental nutrition, they shouldn’t necessarily be designed to increase the deer herd. If you’re having, you know, population issues for one thing, or one reason or another, likely that food plots aren’t going to help solve those, they just help, you know, increase the condition, body size, put on additional muscle mass, prepare them better for the winter, help with antler growth, as well as provide hunting opportunities, but in most cases, it’s just supplemental.
Mark Rassmussen 19:04
Yeah, and that’s something you know, in your example, Carl, about the you know, you said you had your new land owner with whatever 100 acres and 10 acres are open or something like that. Something you should evaluate, you know, with with those acreages is both the open acres and the timbered acres is what you already have. Because like Eric said, you know, food plots are supplemental, kind of, I like to say when I’m out, doing business with with landowners, that food plots are a great way to kill deer, but they’re not really habitat management. They are they are a supplemental thing. And so, you know, native forages should be the base for for what you’re trying to do for all wildlife species. So, you know, I think something that I think that gets overlooked a lot. You guys see guys have some open ground. And they think well I gotta convert that over into a food plot. But you know, potentially that that open ground could already be providing a pretty high quality food source. There’s a lot of species that are basically considered weeds by most people, ragweed, wild lettuce, asters, golden rods, blackberries and raspberries. That as long as they’re fairly new growth where they’ve been refreshed, preferably through fire are as good or better than most planted food plots species nutrient wise. So if you’ve already got that, then you know, you should be looking to keep that because that’s not just providing food, but it’s also then providing a signal while it’s one it’s providing a lot more food than you’re probably going to get out of any food plot that you plant and two its providing not just food, but cover as well. Food plots really don’t provide any kind of cover maybe corn if you plant that does, but otherwise, yeah, if you if you’ve kind of got those old field areas that are thick and brambly, and full of ragweed and goldenrod and whatnot, that’s a lot of food a lot of forage is also a great cover for does to have fawns, it’s great cover for turkeys to lay their nests, have their nest and then also raise their their broods and, you know, gamebird broods of all types, they’re highly highly dependent in their growth phase on insects, they need that high protein to grow their feathers and fledge out and become adult birds. And you’re not going to have much for insects in most food plots. Some but not a lot. But you know, in those old field areas, when there’s a lot more of those forbs and flowering species, they’re loaded with bugs, and that’s absolutely necessary for for their growth. And if you’re thinking about the future and wanting to, you know, have good turkey population on your property as an example, that would be something you need to look at. As maintain, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn some of your stuff over into into a food plot. That’s there’s no problem with that. But just think about what you got. And there’s a lot of stuff you can do where you can get a ton of benefit without doing basically anything other than maintaining it as that kind of early successional, weedy forb area.
Eric Canania 22:01
Yeah, and I think you hit the nail on the head Mark, you talked about food that equals cover. And it may not be a traditional food plot as maybe the podcast was intended. But it’s a growing trend of managing old fields, early successional habitat, you know, identifying invasives, and making sure those are out of there. But you’re providing just as much nutritional benefit, if not more, with extra tonnage, in addition to cover. So if you’re going back to your example, Carl, about 100 acres 10% of it being open. You know, I always want to make sure that there’s adequate cover, maybe it’s early successional habitat, maybe that’s native warm season grass blends, because the bed, you know, the deer they bed most of the day, and then they make their way to the food. So you could have the best food plot in the world. But depending on where they’re bedding, they may never make it there in the daytime. So, you know, even if there’s a we don’t really plant any food plots on public land, and I’m primarily a public land hunter, and whatnot, you know, close to a food source, I’m always trying to backtrack the deer and hunt closer to their beds, because then you’re gonna have a better chance of catching that animal on its feet during the daylight. And that’s gonna translate to venison in the freezer.
Ashley Olson 23:16
What about, maybe this doesn’t necessarily apply directly to what we’re talking about with the food plots. And as far as the planting the management, but what about water sources for the wildlife and and the food plots. So as a former person who worked with the CRP, Conservation Reserve Program through USDA, and wildlife food plots that were allowed on certainCRP ground, people wanted to put watering holes, water features in that was not permitted, which I understand because it was more of a hunting type thing to say attract the deer. And that’s not the point of these food plots. It’s for supplemental, but do they tend to be of more value if they’re near a water source? Or doesn’t it matter?
Mark Rassmussen 24:10
Yeah, everything drinks water, obviously. So.
Ashley Olson 24:14
Another nutrient we all need!
Mark Rassmussen 24:16
Right, yeah. So you know, I do think having having water on your property, if that’s something you don’t have, is important. And is is a thing you can do that you do need to do, you need to be careful about how you’re doing that to make sure that you’re, you know, following whatever permits you may need, and all that kind of stuff or creating different waterholes and stuff like that. And another thing that needs to be on the radar of folks and most of Wisconsin, certainly the southern three quarters of the state anyways, is that if you’re creating ponds, those are generally stagnant water sources and those can be a breeding source for the midges that spread EHD which is a epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Right Eric? And that’s a, that can cause, well, it’s that that diseases, almost almost always fatal to deer and can cause fairly significant local reductions in deer population, especially in drier years. So that’s something to keep in mind when you’re making a stagnant pond, you might potentially be causing yourself a problem. In a future year with EHD, though, the population will rebound in the years following that after that, because it’s not something that sticks around, it just kind of comes and goes.
Ashley Olson 25:30
Wow, interesting. Didn’t even know that that was a issue that existed.
Eric Canania 25:36
And kind of adding to the deer biology side of things. You know, deer do obviously drink water, but they get a lot of their water through a process called metabolic water. So it’s, it’s water obtained through breaking down their food. And during the spring, and summertime, at least when we have succulent, vegetative food sources out there, they can get a lot of water through that. So in most cases, you know, again, it kind of depends, but there’s generally a pond or creek or river or something of that nature nearby. And it’s probably not needed.
Carl Duley 26:11
I want to back up just just a step. Great, great question about water and you always kind of wonder about that. But we talked about kind of more of a native habitat. So I have this 10 acre field, I keep going back to that. And it’s been corn and soybeans for the last 20 years. The only thing that’s going to come up maybe naturally are a bunch of weeds. Correct me if I’m wrong, Jerry, but, we probably aren’t going to have a whole lot of natives that are going to pop up. How do I go about getting that to good wildlife habitat? Or let’s, let’s say I want to do half of that as some kind of native habitat and the rest of it in, in food plants? What’s my steps? I know, Jerry told us soil test. What do I do next?
Jerry Clark 26:59
Well, I’ll just take the next step. And then I’m sure Eric and Mark probably have some, some more detailed answers. But if it’s, it’s more in that native side of things, find natives that again, are, we have a, Wisconsin has a great listing of native plants in Wisconsin, but if you’re in Green Bay versus Viroqua, those two natives are different. And so find out what is native to your area of the state, or wherever you are. And then natives typically do not need all that fertility that corn, soybeans, legumes need, they’re designed to grow in that those soils that they’re native to. So from that standpoint, you know, the seed might be a little more expensive, if you’re going to, you know, try to reclaim that back into what would be considered a native planting versus, you know, maybe what we would consider a annual or perennial food plot. So there again, I think that’s the seeds going to be more expensive, but those are going to be designed as perennials over the long haul. And then it gets back into that management. Is it mowing, is it fire, and that’s where Eric and Mark can provide much more detail on that.
Mark Rassmussen 28:12
Certainly, you know, planting natives may be necessary if that, like you said in that example, 10 acres and it’s been corn and soy beans for forever. But you know, some of those, some of those native weedy species I mentioned earlier, the ragweed and stuff like that, that may be the stuff that comes in, you might Yeah, it might be all stuff non desirable. Mostly non native stuff like Canada thistle, and burdock and, and parsnip and stuff like that, if you get that coming in, obviously, that’s not something you’re going to want on your property, because it’s really not beneficial for anything. And that would be something you’d want to get rid of, and potentially need to pursue the, you know, the native planting native species, which like, like Jerry said, can be, can be a bit expensive, depending on, you know, what you’re going to plant and how much you’re going to plant generally. You know, most of the time when folks are converting that open ground, they’re going to be planting some form of prairie species, which are native to most most parts of Wisconsin, though not all that something important to remember is, you know, there are parts of Wisconsin where we did not have prairie and so wouldn’t necessarily be the best thing to be converting to. But you know, generally the the grasses are going to be what’s cheaper, and the flowers are going to be what’s more expensive. The flowers are what you’re going to the grasses are an important component of that because you know, they provide a lot of structure and some forage value, not much but some and, and they’re a component of a native restoration. But the forbs are going to be what you get the most, most bang for your buck out of but that going to be you know, considerably more expensive depending on how diverse you want to plant you can take take that 10 acres and spend $30,000 planting it down. If you wanted to make it just crazy diverse and really high rates of Forbes, you could spend $1000 bucks and it’d be less diverse but still, still good. So that’s something to keep in mind as well.
Eric Canania 30:02
Yeah, one of the one of the quick and easy places that landowners can look for these native seeds are just going to the Pheasants Forever. website, they have a they have a store, and it’s broken down by a bunch of different states and the blends they’re tailor made for a particular state. So that’s a pretty, pretty easy way to know that you’re getting a seed mixture that is going to do well in your state. Again, some parts of the state aren’t, don’t necessarily need or should have prairies. But for the most part, you’re going to be purchasing a seed blend that’s going to do well in Wisconsin, and I believe they also sell quite a few species individually. So if you want to custom make a custom seed blend, you can go in there and do that as well.
Mark Rassmussen 30:53
Another another angle, you can pursue is native shrub plantings, native shrub and tree plantings, because that’s another thing you can do that actually would generally be somewhat less expensive than a prarie restoration. And you can get both cover and food out of that. You know we’re talking about species like hazelnutt and the different dogwood species, native prairie crab apple, American plum, hawthorne, and stuff like that. Those are all really beneficial species that provide a lot of a lot of food that are great for a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, as well as you know, other others both game and non game species, though you will have to anytime you’re planting a woody species of any format, you’re going to need to protect it from those deer until it gets established. But yeah, and a good source for that. With the Wisconsin DNR here. We have a state nursery, that’s out of rapids, and people can get order native shrub packages from from that that place for very economical prices, there is a minimum number or minimum order you have to make from that which I think is 300. I want to say which is I think we can go down to you know, 100 individual stems per species, but it’s that you have to have minimum order of 300 bare root seedlings to get that from but that’s a great source. Frankly, native shrubs are kind of hard to get a lot of times from a commercial source. So Wisconsin, DNR nurseries are oftentimes the best best resource for getting a lot of our native shrubs, that’s another another angle that folks could pursue if they’re looking to convert some ag ground into into good wildlife habitat. And food.
Carl Duley 32:40
I’m Mark with those native shrubs or do you have a list? Or does DNR have a list of first of all what they are and what species of wildlife they may benefit the most and are most desirable for different species. Because otherwise you go to the commercial catalog and you end up like the property that I bought 29 years ago that’s all honeysuckle and and yeah, I’ll be out the invasive that we have in all of our woodland here. Marc?
Mark Rassmussen 33:14
Carl Duley 33:15
Yeah, somebody planted it one time. And now it’s just a mess. So how do we go about finding out for sure. What’s the best species to put in?
Mark Rassmussen 33:25
Well, we do have you know, we have one publication titled woody cover for wildlife I think that does kind of discuss some of our native both tree and shrub species and, and what what they’re good for, you know, like I said, if you if you go with the resource of getting your getting your, your shrubs from the state of Wisconsin on our trainer, so you’re not going to be getting invasive species because we only sell native native species and they’re going to be beneficial to a wide variety of, of any little ball or native wildlife basically. Go ahead, Ashley.
Ashley Olson 34:00
Oh, just wanted to as we’re we’re talking here today, again, welcoming anyone tuning in to our cutting edge podcast, search for alternative crops in Wisconsin. And we’re fortunate enough today to be joined by Mark and Eric both from the Wisconsin DNR, along with our special guest, Jerry Clark as a guest today and not a host from our division of extension. As we’re talking here, I’ve another question or thought that I had were talking about where we can source different seeds, possibly get some trees from the state nursery. Are there any other, and you both Eric you’re part of your job is you can assist landowners with some of this and these wildlife plots? Are there different types of grants or funding available to help landowners that are interested in doing this?
Eric Canania 35:05
Yeah, certainly. And that’s, you know, that’s an angle that I always try to promote. When I’m meeting with landowners. One of the ones that we offer in house is called WIFLEGAP or Wisconsin forested landowner grant program. And I think the two caveats, you have to have a forest management plan, which it also provides cost share funding for, and I think it’s 10 contiguous acres of timber is as a minimum. And with that, I think we provide up to 50% cost share for priority projects and reforesting. You know, hand planting, and trees, TSI, invasive species removal all fall on that priority one category. So a lot of the stuff that folks are doing on their own or that Mark and I both recommend when we’re out on site visits, likely can be cost shared just through an in house DNR program. But there’s also a ton of different other programs out there with the federal agencies that can provide cost share funding as well.
Mark Rassmussen 36:14
One other thing I’d plug with, with the Farm Bill programs and the you know, the CRPs and whatnot from from that you can get through that through the NRCS and our federal agencies. Wisconsin DNR, we we pay for Pheasants Forever to hire individuals known as farm bill biologists, and we have them there’s oh I don’t know, what six or seven here in Wisconsin, I think,and they all have the kind of their regions of responsibility, and it’s their entire job to go out and meet with private landowners and help them navigate navigate when they’re trying to do you know, do some of these, you know, habitat work to improve their property and get some costshare from the federal government. It’s these farm bill biologists job to help these land owners, you know, figure out which program is the best fit for what they want to do on their property, as well as you know, navigate the the world of the Farm Bill programs and help them you know, go through the enrollment process and that kind of stuff. So that’s a program I highly, highly recommend to prospective landowners if they are going to pursue funding through through the federal government.
Ashley Olson 37:26
And there’s that. Can they find out about that? If they just were to simply call either view at the local DNR office? Or is that something that say NRCS? Or a Pheasants Forever type would be promoting?
Mark Rassmussen 37:45
Yeah, certainly you could get get their contact information from your from your local biologist, your county biologist in whatever county in the state you live in. Otherwise, I would imagine if you just googled Wisconsin Farm Bill biologists, you’d probably get go to a page that would take you right to the contact information. And the for the each each of those biologists in the counties they cover but yeah, there’s and I don’t know, I would, I would assume NRCS may as well also have have that contact information for you. So there’s, there’s a number of avenues you can go through to get that get that contact information.
Ashley Olson 38:18
Very good to know. Thank you.
Jerry Clark 38:21
And with with NRCS, I think they have an office in every county or at least is represented in every county and maybe Ashley knows that better than anyone coming from the federal side. But their their environmental quality incentive program is one that they do have a wildlife pollinator type programs, and you do need to sign up through USDA being a federal agency. Some grants but I believe a lot of that is cost share, too. It might be 70% that they’ll pick the tab up on if it’s a water feature or pollinators or restoration of something. So yeah, NRCS and your Natural Resource Conservation Service in your local county should have an office.
Carl Duley 39:02
Jerry along with being a co host sometimes and and to being an expert at other times. He’s also our webmaster for our cutting edge, podcast page. And, and if Marc and Eric, if you have a couple of references that are available online, if you can get those to me, I’ll get them to Jerry and we can connect those with the with the podcast to help people out as they have other questions and need a little bit more information in those would be up shortly. Any other thoughts Ashley or Mark, Eric, or Jerry?
Jerry Clark 39:36
Oh, just appreciate the invite and being part of this and yeah, being kind of on the other side of the fence. I just encourage folks to check out our cutting edge podcast got lots of neat information there. And I’ll get the website updated as soon as I can, Carl.
Carl Duley 39:51
That sounds great. And special thanks to Mark and Eric. There’s a there’s a lot more I think to go into the thought of developing quality food plots, quality wildlife habitat than just planting some corn and soybeans. And and I think you both pointed that out in a very nice manner today.
Ashley Olson 40:13
Absolutely, we appreciate it.
Eric Canania 40:15
Yeah, I think you know, food plots are a rabbit hole discussion. It’s easy for folks to get over their head sometimes. And, you know, that’s where Mark and I come into play. So I just really encourage folks who are wanting to start off on the right foot to give your local biologist to call, you know, to have these conversations with them. And if they don’t know the answer, they’re usually more than willing to find somebody who does. So you know, we are a resource to folks and we want to see you succeed.
Carl Duley 40:43
Thank you. And I’ll turn it back to Ashley for our wind up.
Ashley Olson 40:47
Right so we would like to thank everyone today for joining us on our podcast the cutting edge a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. As always, you can go and listen to the recordings. Again. If you would like to capture more information on our website at FYI.extension.wisc.edu. Thank you everyone.
JASON FISCHBACH 41:33
Brought to you by the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension.