The USDA has recently released the important news that will allow Edge Feathering to be a payable practice for our EQIP conservation program and associated practices. This momentous decision has huge significance for wildlife, especially for bobwhite quail, ring-neck pheasants, songbirds, rabbits, rodents, insects, etc. I have recently schedule Edge Feathering - Early Successional Habitat Management (practice 647) for the very first time in conjunction with our Conservation Cover (practice 327), in establishing native upland prairie and pollinator habitat. This will entail a one-time payment of $289 per acre. It is our hope that cost-share assistance will become available for this habitat improvement practice through other Farm Bill programs such as CRP, in the near future.
Edge Feathering involves hinging and cutting trees that are adjacent to an upland area, thus creating a well-protected "soft" edge that will allow upland birds, songbirds, and other wildlife species to maneuver along the edge with a lower instance of predation, especially from raptors. The goal is to create a transitional zone between succession stages, from the more mature woodland and the early successional upland prairie. This is accomplished by hinging the over-story of trees along the edge, approximately 30-50 feet deep, thus providing sheltering opportunities, especially as the annual weeds and perennial plants grow up alongside with the downed woody vegetation. Promoting additional protection and thermal cover by leaving brush piles, conifer cover, and native trees and shrubs that have significant benefits to wildlife, such as dogwoods, wild plums, viburnums, serviceberry, etc., is also advocated. Felling trees with the use of chainsaws will be scheduled from October through April.
Scheduling Edge Feathering, Early Successional Habitat Management, is a great example of an complimentary practice, and could accompany various conservation practice, including Tree and Shrub Plantings (practice 612), Forest Stand Improvement (666), Field Borders (386) and Conservation Cover (327). EQIP is an all-encompassing program with the objective of addressing multiple resource concerns and conservation objectives. The Honeybee Pollinator Initiative, also offered through EQIP, is still an option for producers to receive generous payments to establish native perennial cover for bees and butterflies, and has proven to be a popular alternative to CRP, being that cropping history is not required. Considerable funding is also available through the Root River SWCD's RCPP Monarch Butterfly Initiative to implement native cover.
I am happy to provide additional information and guidance for those interested in our conservation programs.
Eric J. Ressel, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist
Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever
805 N. Hwy 44/76, Caledonia, MN 55921
Work: 507-724-5261 x111
If you aren’t aware, the Southeast Minnesota chapter of Quail Forever will be having its annual fundraising banquet on Saturday, March 30, in Caledonia, MN. If you would like to learn more, click the link below to access details and our event registration form. I’d love to see you there!