Bobwhite Buffers Now Qualify for Federal Subsidy
What once was a good idea for wildlife now is a good idea for landowners, too. The U. S. Department of Agriculture has cash for those who make their farms more hospitable to quail and other wildlife.
USDA offices throughout Missouri are accepting applications for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program "Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds" practice, or CP33. The practice consists of creating strips of native grasses or other wildlife-friendly plants on the edges of crop fields to provide shelter for quail, rabbits and other wildlife.
"This is a way for farmers to get reliable income from field edges where crop production often is marginal anyway," said Wildlife Ecologist Elsa Gallagher, with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "There is no limit on acreage that can be enrolled in CP33, and as little as one side of a field can be involved. The main restriction is that at least one-tenth of an acre of enrolled fields must be planted in shrubs to enhance habitat value for upland birds."
Under CP33, landowners plant a mix of native grasses and broadleaf plants in 30- to 120-foot strips along the edges of crop fields. Only land that is currently being cropped qualifies. Landowners get a $100 per acre signing bonus plus annual payments for enrolled acreage.
By placing belts of native plants between shrubby cover and crop fields, CP33 creates ideal habitat for quail, rabbits and a variety of other wildlife.
"Landowners might want to take a look at their fields and think about areas where harvests don't quite measure up to the rest of their land," said Gallagher. "If you enroll those areas in CP33, you won't have to fight overhanging trees with your equipment, and trees won't compete with your crops for light and moisture, either. CP33 can make those crop field edges profitable again."
CP33 is a continuous sign-up practice, so landowners can enroll acreage year-round. For more information about CP33, contact any USDA office.