Welcome back to Mr. Smith and his not-so-perfect “perfect” property. Today we’ll discuss the first flaw in, and the solution to, the condition of his farm.
Flaw #1: The cattle have grazed the same pastures for years. Very little grass grows back and most areas are smothered by a heavy thatch of old growth. It is very hard to find native grass over a foot tall anywhere. Also, the hardwood timber has been ignored for decades. Years of ice storm debris and over-crowding have made it nearly impenetrable.
Now for the solution.
Prescribed burning strategies can turn this situation around. Prescribed fire is used to improve or enhance forage production, quality, composition, and palatability for livestock and wildlife. It is a natural alternative to herbicide use, making it a sound management practice. Remove the cattle for a year or two. Disk fire breaks around timbered segments and pastures. Implement controlled burns both in the timbered areas and in the pastures to eliminate the thatch and tree debris. The pastures will have a new vigor and the forest floor will be clean. Burning also controls the invasion of woody plants on prairies. This is something that the inexperienced should not undertake. Contact your local county extension office before planning and they will put you in contact with your nearest burn association. For more information and a free copy of a burn plan packet go to the Web at http://www.ok.nrcs.usda.gov/
We will now move on to the second flaw in Mr. Smith’s property.
Flaw #2: The timber is severely neglected. While this may sound similar to flaw #1, it actually addresses and entirely different issue.
The solution to this problem is TSI, or timber stand improvement. Timber stand improvement addresses several issues. If the timber is of good quality, it can be harvested for lumber. Firewood can be cut in a minimum of one acre tracts, leaving clear-cuts to grow wild with new browse. New, fresh browse is particularly appealing to the white tail. Be sure to leave a few openings for food plots as well. By selectively harvesting and clearing all undesirable trees, you will open the canopy of the forest allowing sunlight to all new, freshly burned ground.
Chew on these first two flaws for now, and consider their solutions. What areas in your property could use some help in these areas?
‘til next time – Scott