Thursday, June 28, 2012

Manage Cropland for Fish and Wildlife

Everything that’s done on the land affects wildlife, either positively or negatively. That’s true for cropland, where habitat quality is usually considered secondary to profitable cropping systems.
Profitable cropping systems can support wildlife, and produce cleaner water and more productive soil, too. Consider making a conservation plan that includes wildlife habitat in each decision
being made.
Follow four key thoughts:

Control soil erosion. While soil conservation is basic to all farming systems, if you think about it, covering the soil is as basic for wildlife habitat as it is to soil protection. To have habitat, wildlife must have food and cover, and that’s what basic soil conservation practices offer.
Grassed waterways, grassed field borders, grass or riparian filter strips, terraces, crop rotations, field and farmstead windbreaks-- all these basic practices offer cover and some food to wildlife.
In offering soil protection, they also contribute to better water quality.

Use conservation tillage. Leaving plant residues on the soil surface after harvest, and through the next year’s crop season as well, protects the soil and offers cover in the winter for many birds and small mammals.
No-till farming, where the soil is disturbed little for planting or through the crop season, helps nesting birds. An Iowa study shows 9 times the amount of bird nests in a no-till field compared to plowed fields. Narrow row soybeans are likewise helpful to quail because there is no disturbance during nesting season.

Time operations for wildlife. Delaying any mowing of waterways, field borders, roadsides, or hayfields until after nesting season is paramount to grassland bird survival. There are also small but important operations changes that can be made, such as mowing a field from the center to the edge, to allow wildlife to escape from the mower into adjoining fields. And you can add a flush bar to your mower to
get birds out of the way of the blade.

Maximize odd areas. Make full use of non-farmed areas alongside crop fields by establishing habitat used by the wildlife you want to see on your farm.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Conservation Daycamp Application

Help Pollinators Help You!

For most Americans, pollen means allergies and bees mean stings-- but to farmers, when one out of every three bites of food people take is made possible by a pollinator, bees and pollen mean much more. Pollinators play a tremendous economic role. The problem is, too many people see the pollination process as a free service from nature; most people don’t know the unprecedented threats facing wild and managed pollinators worldwide.

Managed honey bee colonies have shrunk by 25 percent since 1990, and there are fewer bee hives now in the United States than at any time in the past 50 years. For more than a decade, biologists have documented declines in populations of migratory pollinators including butterflies, bats and birds. Habitat loss and excessive exposure to agrichemicals, as well as spread of diseases, parasitic mites, invasion of Africanized honey bees, and elimination of government subsidies for beekeepers are most often mentioned for what’s been called an impending pollination crisis.
Pollinators are particularly important to fruit, vegetable and nut growers, with crops valued in the billions. California producers rent half a million bee hives a year for almond trees alone.

On your land, there are several things you can do to help pollinators. Don’t disturb wild areas. Bumblebees nest in grass in old mouse nests, for instance, and other bees nest in dead wood. Plant pollinator friendly crops. Clovers, alfalfa, trefoils and other legumes enrich and protect the soil and are pollinator favorites. Use conservation buffers.

Let plants bloom. Try to time mowing, tilling or grazing management decisions so that plants have the opportunity to bloom. Time pesticide application. Your pesticide label lists bee toxicity and residual time. Pollinator-friendly plants include many native wildflowers. An excellent place for them is in streamside buffers next to crop fields.

Did you
A bee's wings vibrate about
435 times a second. More than
75 percent of the crop plants
that feed the world, and many
plant-derived medicines in our
pharmacies rely on pollination
by insects or other animals for
healthy fruit development.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Conservation Day Camp Planned

Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District has been offering a day camp for area youth for more than 20 years! This year at the Conservation Camp, area youth will “Fuel Your Imagination”, with fun and educational activities.

The two day camp is scheduled for July 25 & 26th from 9:00a.m. to 2:00p.m., and it is open to all youth, ages 8-11. It will be held at Moore Memorial Woods, a land lab owned by the district, which is located 3 miles east of Old Washington.
Camp fee is still only $5.00 for both days. For this fee, the camper will receive a lunch both days, a binder full of information, and will receive their own camp T-shirt. There will be 2 locations (one in Cambridge and one in Byesville) for bus pick-up and drop-off.

On the first day, students will learn about how geology helped form the oil, gas, and coal deposits far below the surface of Guernsey county. They will receive a sample of rocks and minerals found in the area. A lifesized Monopoly game will teach them about the energy that these fuel sources provide. They will learn about some of the 6000 products that are made from coal and petroleum that we use in our daily lives. And they will work on building a model to understand how land is reclaimed after coal mining.

On the second day, the coal miners from the Byesville Train will come and tell the kids the story of what it was like to mine coal many years ago. Guernsey Muskingum Electric will do a demonstration on electrical safety. And the kids will go hiking, and other fun activities.

For a registration form or if you have questions, please call the district!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Forest Edge Helps Wildlife - Gradually

Edge-- the transition zone between two different types of vegetation-- can be key to good wildlife habitat on a farm. How good it can be depends on the diversity and quality of the plants that offer food and cover. Just as importantly, those plants need to create a gradual transition from the tall forest trees to the relatively short crop or grass field next to it.

Most transitions are abrupt--  but the direct change from low ground cover in a crop field to tall trees doesn’t help wildlife. What many species like is a wider, more gradual border area. A minimum of 30 feet, but preferably wider zone of grasses, weeds, shrubs, vines and small trees offer the berries, seeds, browse, and insects helpful ton wildlife. Northern bobwhite quail is among the more popular species that relies heavily on edge habitat.

Creating a forest edge.
The transition edge can be converted from no transition by planting shrubs or small trees. Another option is to encourage  the area to revert naturally to native plants. Stop grazing, mowing or cropping the area and the natural process will probably work in short order. A light disking will help weeds and other native species to come along more quickly.
If the trees in the forest are close to one another, the edge can be improved by thinning the tree stand. Consider a commercial timber sale, or cutting trees for firewood. Thinning the stand near the edge allows sunlight to reach the forest understory. The sunlight then promotes more growth of plants that offer food
and cover for wildlife.

Creating forest openings.
An option or addition to creating edge on the outside of large tracts of forests is to create small openings within the forest. Ungrazed clearings in a forest diversify the habitat, and offer woodland birds such as wild turkeys the annual weeds, grasses and seedlings that poults need. With selective thinning, good fruit and nut producing trees, den trees, and snags can be left for more food and cover for wildlife.

It’s a good idea to have five to ten acres of small clearings for every 100 acres of forest, with clearings ranging from one to three acres.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bats help Battle Crop Pests

Bats get a bad rap. These crop and farm-friendly creatures consume enormous amounts of insects daily.
They eat the beetles, moths, and leafhoppers that cost landowners billions of dollars in damages each year.
Agricultural ally vs. insects.
The benefits of bats to farmers goes on and on. A few examples:
1) Just 150 big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles each summer to protect farmers from 33
million of the rootworm larvae. This pest costs American farmers an estimated billion dollars a year.

2) Bats from just three caves near San Antonio, Texas, eat about a million pounds nightly of insects, including many costly pests.

3) A Georgia pecan grower is no longer losing 30% of his crop to hickory shuckworms. He installed bat
houses-- one of them hosts a colony of 2,000 bats.

4) A little brown bat can eat 1200 insects in an hour.

Fact vs. myth on bats
Misconceptions abound on bats. For instance, they are not blind, they do not become entangled in human hair and they seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.
Some bats can maneuver like helicopters to pluck insects from foliage, while others fly 10,000 feet high and dive like jets.

How can you help?
Like most animals, bats suffer from habitat loss. Their primary cause of decline is destruction of natural roosts by humans.
Landowners can help by building and putting up bat houses on their property, or working with highway departments to create roosts under bridges.  Mines that are closed can continue to provide habitat and openings for bats.
The district has bat boxes for sale, and can also provide plans for those who would like to built their own.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Our pond clinic is coming up SOON!   Thursday, June 14th from 6-8PM.  Its held at the Senecaville Fish Hatchery this year, and begins with a tour of the hatchery.  Then Mike Greenlee, aquatic biologist for ODNR will talk about fish and fish stocking.  Joe Lehman of our office will cover controlling wildlife damage to the pond and especially to the dam.  Van Slack, along with Noble SWCD technician Jim Mizik will explain pond siting, design, and dam construction.  And Clif Little from OSU extension will talk about controlling pond weeds.   Come enjoy a lovely evening outdoors and learn how you can better manage your dream pond.  Please call our office to reserve your spot at this event.  There is no charge, but we need to know how many to plan for

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nature Hike on the Great Guernsey Trail

Scheduled for Friday, June 8th at 6PM.  Meet at the Great Guernsey trailhead on Corduroy Rd. Led by Guernsey SWCD wildlife specialist Joe Lehman, and master gardener & naturalist Myron Dellinger. 
Enjoy the beautiful weather and get some exercise while learning about the wildlife and plant life along the trail. 
You can find the trailhead by following US 40 east of Cambridge, approx a mile past interstate 77.  (yes the bridge is open going eastbound)  Then turn right onto Corduroy Rd, and go about 1/4 mile to the parking lot, which is on the left.  Look for the white board fence.