Native Prairie Establishment for Augusta County, Virginia
Wildlife Mixture (as opposed to a forage grazing mixture)
This practice is used as a standalone practice to establish early successional habitat or as preparation for tree/shrub planting.
Seeds below are given as Pure Live Seed (PLS) on a per ACRE basis:
½ lb. Switchgrass
1 lbs. Little Bluestem
1 lb. Side-oat Gramma
1 lb. Indiangrass
½ lb. Big Bluestem
½ lb. annual Lespedeza
1 lb. Partridge Pea
Note that there are only 4 pounds of total grass seeds per acre. We don’t want a thick stand as compared to a stand to produce forage for livestock. This is for wildlife. The goal is to have 25 % bare ground. This is so grassland birds can move around on the ground in-between the plants.
We also recommend planting up to ½ pound per acre of wildflowers native to Virginia and resistant to the herbicide “Plateau”. These include:
Black eyed susan Coneflower
Lance-leaved coreopsis Illinois bundleflower
Perennial lupine Drummond Phlox
Showy tick trefoil Blanket flower
Cover Crop/Nurse Crop:
Native grasses take a several years to get established. In wildlife mixtures such as the one above, It is recommend to add a nurse crop of annual grains that will reseed themselves for several years. This provides quick cover to prevent soil erosion and undesirable weeds from germinating. It also provides wildlife with winter food. We recommend adding on a per acre basis:
1 lb. Oats
1 lb. Buckwheat
2 lbs. of mixed bird seed (sunflowers, millets and wheat).
Post emergent use of Plateau:
The herbicide Plateau can be used after planting the native prairie to suppress Tall Fescue, thistle and other problem weeds. If this is used, then do not plant the nurse crop of annual grains as listed above because the Plateau will kill the nurse crop.
The drill you use may not be able to seed the above mixture at this sparse of a rate and a filler may need to be used to assure uniform coverage over your field. There are several fillers recommended including: more mixed bird seed, pelleted lime, and cracked corn.
Native seeds come in various stages of cleanliness. This has nothing to do with how viable the seed is. Native seed traditionally comes with their awns still attached giving them the appearance of a dandelion seed. Recent developments in the seed cleaning business however have made some seed very clean. The cleanliness of your seed will determine what type of drill you will need to use to get the seeds into the ground. I will be glad to look at the seeds for you to help determine your drill needs.
There are many sources for these seeds. You can simply search the internet for “native warm season grass” or you may call one of the suppliers on the enclosed list.
Seedbed Preparation (Existing condition is predominately fescue):
The seedbed should be sprayed with Roundup (according to label directions) in mid to late September through October and again in mid May of the following year. If an October spraying is not practical two applications in the spring will work. The herbicide “plateau” may be used as the second application and as a post-emergent treatment after the seeds have germinated if fescue remains a problem.
Burning the residue off after it has died is recommended.
Plan to get the above seeds in the ground no later than June 15th. There are various methods for doing this: using a special no-till drill for native grasses, using a regular no-till drill (very clean seeds), preparing a conventional seedbed and using a conventional drill or broadcasting and harrowing in or dragging. Your methods will depend on many factors, one of which is the quality of the seed you have.
Seeds should be planted no deeper than ½ inch. Seeing some exposed seed after you sow them is normal at this depth.
“If you want to understand the perspective of a dedicated cattle farmer, educated ecologist, and water-quality specialist, this is the book for you!
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