Managing Wildlife Habitat with Chemicals │ Herbicide Use in Wildlife Management
The spring months are mostly characterized by the vibrant colors of flowers blooming, trees and shrubs budding, and of course the grass is starting to green. Well, if you like to hunt many of the country’s upland game species including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys then the spring months offer you a great opportunity to do some effective and cheap habitat improvements, through herbicide use in wildlife management.
While food plots offer a great opportunity to provide supplemental food for a wide range of wildlife species, completing “total package” for wildlife habitat improvements that includes natural forages like woody browse, forbs, and even soft mast can help ensure proper nutrition for many species all year round. Herbicide use in wildlife management can help ensure you are promoting the most beneficial wildlife foods, and removing undesirable or invasive species.
During the spring months, cool season grasses are typically the first to green. As a rule of thumb, these grasses grow the best when soil temperatures begin to reach 55 degrees. While there are several wildlife friendly cool season grass species, like Virginia wild rye, the unfortunate truth is much of the countryside is dominated by non-native sod forming grasses such as tall fescue and brome that provide very little wildlife benefit. Herbicide use in wildlife management can remove or reduce sod forming grasses and make room for wildlife beneficial foods on your property.
There are many chemicals for herbicide use in wildlife management available for you to choose from when applying managing the habitat. However, a glyphosate based product is the best choice when targeting cool season grasses such as fescue and brome. While it is not necessarily required, utilizing a surfactant in conjunction with the herbicide will help ensure an effective treatment. Herbicide use in wildlife management can be as broad (like with glyphosate) or specific (like grass- or broadleaf-selective) as desired.
There are many different scenarios that exist for herbicide use in wildlife management, and as such each scenario may require a different approach or application. For example, if you are treating cool season grasses within areas such as native grass plantings, utilizing a light application rate of 1.5 quarts/acre of a glyphosate based product will ensure an adequate coverage while not adversely affecting your native grasses. Herbicide use in wildlife management in areas such as old food plots, or on existing food plots, will require about 1.5 quarts/acre as an acceptable rate.
If you are applying a direct application of herbicide to a solid stand of cool season grasses such as a fescue or brome field, a greater rate of herbicide is required. Applications such as these are typically 2 quarts/acre. Herbicide use in wildlife management should be focused on creating vegetation and habitat diversity on the property. In other words, after the herbicide application you should notice an increase in the number of different species of plants than you did prior to the herbicide application being applied.
After herbicide use in wildlife management in a given area, such as cool season field, you may begin to notice plants such as foxtail and ragweed growing in these areas. While this may seem like a bad thing, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plants like foxtail and ragweed provide an excellent food sources for a wide range of wildlife. You may also notice that what was once a dense mat of sod, now has areas of bare ground, and this also is a good thing. Ground nesting birds such as turkeys and quail require bare ground to navigate their young broods. These young birds find it almost impossible to utilize areas of thick sod forming grasses. You can further enhance these acres by repeating herbicide use in wildlife management during the fall months, or even a prescribed burn – another very effective and inexpensive wildlife habitat enhancement practice.
One of the biggest benefits to herbicide use in wildlife management, and why applying it is one of the most popular wildlife habitat enhancement practices is that there is very little equipment required. While larger sites can utilize a tractor and boom sprayer, or can be completed by your local agricultural cooperative for a small fee, smaller sites can be easily completed with an ATV spray unit or even a backpack sprayer.
Herbicide use in wildlife management is something that anyone can do, though some herbicides may require a chemical license to apply in certain states. After applying, sit back and enjoy the benefits of your wildlife habitat enhancement this fall!