Cover crops, bird nests, soil health: Topics of BWF infolunch

BWF photos Left: Brad Schmidt, Ducks Unlimited agronomist who coordinates soil health projects on private land from his Ducks Unlimited office in Brookings.

BROOKINGS – The Brooking Wildlife Federation (BWF) will host Brad Schmidt, an agronomist with Ducks Unlimited (DU) at the Federation’s regular First-Friday Infolunch, Dec.  7 at  noon.  

The BWF now meets at the First Lutheran Church Coffee House where a lite lunch can be purchased.  

Schmidt will speak about cover crops and their potential to increase soil health and provide habitat for ground nesting birds. Schmidt is a 2017 graduate of SDSU with a BS degree in Agriculture Science. Brad is part owner and operator of his family farm in Minnesota where he has been implementing Regenerative Agriculture/ Soil Health practices.  He works with producers all over Eastern South Dakota helping them implement soil health practices.  

The BWF is a partner with DU in projects to improve duck nesting habitat in an unusual place – crop land.  The projects include planting cover crops in crop land and perennial grasses on marginal soils. 

For example, DU donated a seed drill to the Beadle Conservation District for planting cover crops into harvested small grain and standing corn. DU biologists found duck nests in the cover crops. Steve Donovan of DU said “We looked at seven active duck nests in a soybean field that had cover crops in it.  This is exciting stuff!  I don’t think anybody would have guessed a few years ago that ducks would nest in soybean fields.”

There is more to the program than just cover crops.  The BWF is also supporting DU in a broader soil health initiative, which includes promoting cover crops, no-till farming, diverse crop rotations and planting marginal cropland back to grass.  The new idea is to inter-seed cover crops between rows of corn or beans.  

These projects will benefit a wide variety of wildlife species, including waterfowl, pheasants, migratory birds and many resident wildlife species. Federation President Spencer Vaa, former waterfowl biologist for Game, Fish and Parks said of cover crops, “It’s a win- win for farmers and sportsmen.”

The Federation is an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation and the South Dakota Wildlife Federation.  In 2019, the BWF will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of providing information, events and services concerning out-of-doors activities and wildlife conservation to the Brookings community.  

The  current Board of Directors members are Phil Wagner, Dennis Micko, Bob Kurtz, and Terry Wieczorek.  past BWF president is Rich Widman. Contact BWF President Spencer Vaa, 695-6867.


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