So I bought some land...

SupressYourself

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160 acres in NE SD. It's currently a mix of crop land, alfalfa, and pasture.
I plan to either just let the pasture grow or plant some CRP-type grasses there. It's pretty rough, and I don't think it's ever been tilled, so I'm leaning toward leaving it -- understanding that some spraying / maintenance will be required.
I had some ideas about improvements to make, as depicted in the image below, with the goal of creating and deer and pheasant sanctuary.

Potential2.jpg

Any tips, tricks, or random thoughts from the crowd?
 
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SupressYourself

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The stupid ad thing makes the image too small to make out. There must be some way to attach a full-sized image...

Try this...

Potential2.jpg

I know [MENTION=1]Vollmer[/MENTION] gots to get paid, but Google Ads can suck my ass.
 
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bucksnbears

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First off... congrats!
Second, what's your main goal?

Lots of questions to ask.
Any winter cover?
What are the neighbors like?
160 acres ain't much in an area with little cover with shitty neighbors.
Gonna take time n $$ to turn pasture ground into good ground if deer is the goal.
But congrats on living the dream.
 


701FishSlayer

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1st things first, rip every single tree row out of there. Next, dig up any road that travels a legal section line. After you've finished be sure to til any slew or habitat holding area. And finally, don't forget to post up every square inch. Oh and welcome to the dark side.
 

SupressYourself

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My main goal is to eventually harvest deer on my own land. Some upland birds would be a bonus.
I hope to create some winter cover. There are about 4 or 5 rows of cedars on the west side of the pasture area. You can't really see them in the image above because the satellite imagery is a few years old, and the trees are currently only about 3 feet tall.
I'd like to establish a bedding area in that NE corner. Currently it's sort of a low-ish rough grassy area, but I don't think water ever really sits there. I'm thinking a few rows of cedars and shrubs. -- Now that I look at it, I have / will have lots of protection from a N and W winds, but not really any other direction. Maybe I should try to partially enclose that NE corner...
 

Auggie

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Congrats!

I would call the local NRCS/Soil Conservative District/Pheasants Forever for assistance. Quick glance, if it were me; I'd sacrifice a little cropland for the food plots and rotate the plot around there. That will help with weed control. However, you'll need to be cognisant of the farmer's herbicide program.

Breaking ground in the CRP area can likely encourage weed growth. When it comes to trees, you will want to plant multiple rows (6 or more) to make it thicker and provide more cover. Managed grazing can encourage grass growth and cycle nutrients, so that might be worth considering.
 

Allen

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Welcome to land ownership! It's rewarding in many ways, financial for us outdoorsy types...not so much.

Anyway, if I owned a parcel as you have laying in front of you:

1. That yellow stripe, I'd plant it in 3 rows. A row of brushy type cover caragana (or something similar), a row of conifers (most likely a spruce variety), and another row of something brushy (lots of things out there, but I'm looking for bird food and wind/snow protection).

2. Combine the corn/beans/wheat field into one.

3. The alfalfa, you can either rent it out along with the other cropland to offset cost of ownership, or convert it to cropland. It would be a good offset crop type to that in the northern part of the property. Nonetheless, I'd probably try to establish a more native parcel of about 15-20% of that piece. That would be the bird nesting and cover for upland pursuit.

4. Basically I would try really hard to establish habitat in-between the acres I'd want to rent out for income.

- - - Updated - - -

p.s. At one point I really liked cedars. Now, not so damn much. Cedars are a host of Cedar-Apple Rust. So it may be a problem for some varieties of apples, but it is the death knell to any Juneberry production within at least half of a mile. Cedar-Apple Rust really effs up the berries. And I like Juneberries.

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Go with junipers.

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Oh yeah, and I would specifically put in any rental agreement on the cropland that no Dicamba is to be used. That shit is really harsh on everything you are seeking to establish.
 

Duckslayer100

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Figure out if there's any drain tile, then plug it up. I'd find the low areas and see if they can be excavated a bit. Getting a permanent or semi-permanent pond/s there would help a lot with biodiversity.

I don't think you can go wrong with grasses. As much as possible.

Wildflowers? Pretty sure G&F may even have grants if you can create habitat that benefits meadowlarks and/or pollinators.

Start planting some trees. Talk to KDM, but seems like a mix of fast growers, hardwoods, and spruce for windbreaks/beading areas would do well to hold deer.
 


Dirty

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Any shelter belts should be 7 rows deep at least in my experience if you want to have winter cover, and you’re looking at a ten year plan. I would go 9 rows or even more if you have the coin. 2 thicket forming rows of shrubs on the inner and outer most rows and 3 to 5 rows of spruce or pine inside. Thicket forming rows could be Buffalo berry or chokecherry or plum or something that offers food if desired. Do not try making a shelter belt for wildlife in winter with less than 7 rows.

Contact the local soil service. Lots of cost sharing programs for putting up wildlife habitat. They will probably plant them for you if you prep the ground first.
 
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Tymurrey

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Things i've learned over the years is that not grazing pasture doesn't necessarily make for better deer hunting. It does seem to make for better pheasant hunting though. In one of my pastures i sprayed roundup on the cool season grasses in about a 10 acre area in early may i think it was to try and help get some switchgrass established. the switchgrass never took off but the native warm season grasses took off and while they didn't provide cover the deer seemed to like to feed in them areas on the forbes and grasses that grew there. I think an area of switchgrass or taller native warm season grasses would be awesome and i eventually plan on establishing some on mine. Trees besides junipers and cedars for me didn't pay to plant unless i there was fabric or tubes placed with them. Seems like everything else struggled to compete against the grass and weed and even the ones that lived grow really slow. Tree replacement costs add up and hopefully you have some help with planting the replacements. I think i have around 300 trees to replace this year on my pasture planting due to the drought and where they are at i cant maintain them very well and that planting is 3 or 4 years old. I like what you have laid out but it seems like you may be hurting for bedding area to support a decent amount of deer and the tree rows will help but that will take a few years. If you don't need the rent money off the cropland or alfalfa some of that planted to a taller crp type grass with a couple single row fast growing tree/shrubs would provide some good bedding/fawn/nesting cover along with a good area to walk for birds. I am not sure whats around you for land types and if you plan on pulling deer from the neighbors to yours or if you want them to stay on yours. It may suck to lose some of the rent money but losing 10 acres or so of that alfalfa would still provide plenty of forage along with the cropland for the wildlife and would increase cover substantially.

Also make sure to take advantage of every cost share option you can get or any organizations that will help with cost coverage on trees. The cost really adds up when you start talking more than 3 rows and any length to them. Lots of good advice on the tree rows. I contour planted 8 rows up next to an existing block of trees.
 
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snow1

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Sweet ,congrats....SGFP's has funds to help you land owners establish habitate,webster has a gfp head quarter's in town they'll fund crp,shelter belts etc,NE south dakota is a great area,webster offers great waterfowling but not much upland and all the glacial lakes offer great fishing but be mindful of fish consumption,most of these lakes are polluted from years of crop land run off,also being a glacial lake area iffin you intend to till a portion of your land,plenty of boulders/rocks to deal with.
 


Traxion

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Get ahold of the SDGFP Habitat Advisor for your area. They will come out, walk the property with you, and give you great advice on what to do. And they know every program top to bottom and what will work on your land. They are an incredible asset, we have had them out on our place and they were very helpful.

https://habitat.sd.gov/

As others have noted, shelter belts need to be wide. The SDGFP woody habitat program is great, they require a minimum of 8 rows and are very specific on species. I would have them look at grassland restoration on that pasture. If it hasn't been broken, the options are more limited since they don't want you tearing it up in most cases. But, you should also have some options for Watershed Improvement. Throw in some pollinator strips too, that is great brood cover for upland. You have a sweet setup there with lots of potential. Let us know how it goes!
 

SupressYourself

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Sweet ,congrats....SGFP's has funds to help you land owners establish habitate,webster has a gfp head quarter's in town they'll fund crp,shelter belts etc,NE south dakota is a great area,webster offers great waterfowling but not much upland and all the glacial lakes offer great fishing but be mindful of fish consumption,most of these lakes are polluted from years of crop land run off,also being a glacial lake area iffin you intend to till a portion of your land,plenty of boulders/rocks to deal with.

It's actually not too far from Webster. I grew up near Sisseton, so I'm familiar with the area. Logged many, many hours picking rocks with a 5 gallon bucket, so I know what to expect there as well :)

- - - Updated - - -

Get ahold of the SDGFP Habitat Advisor for your area. They will come out, walk the property with you, and give you great advice on what to do. And they know every program top to bottom and what will work on your land. They are an incredible asset, we have had them out on our place and they were very helpful.
https://habitat.sd.gov/

Thank you. That's very helpful. I'll reach out to the habitat advisor.
 

Retired-Guy

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Any shelter belts should be 7 rows deep at least in my experience if you want to have winter cover, and you’re looking at a ten year plan. I would go 9 rows or even more if you have the coin. 2 thicket forming rows of shrubs on the inner and outer most rows and 3 to 5 rows of spruce or pine inside. Thicket forming rows could be Buffalo berry or chokecherry or plum or something that offers food if desired. Do not try making a shelter belt for wildlife in winter with less than 7 rows.

Contact the local soil service. Lots of cost sharing programs for putting up wildlife habitat. They will probably plant them for you if you prep the ground first.

I would avoid planting plum trees. I planted some about 20 years ago and there are only a handful left because they seem to have such a short life. Maybe others have had better experiences with them.
 

snow1

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Don't know about plum tree's but plum thickets in road ditches in western states are pheasant magnets...

Curious supress,is your quarter near "Roy lake?",Roy lake has been on my bucket list to fish for a long time.great area.
 

Lycanthrope

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Check with your local soil conservation district, here in burleigh they will plant trees for you really cheap, if you want to attract wildlife you need COVER. The wildlife fund thing that is funded I think with oil money pays 75% of the planting cost here, Id guess its similar in other counties, but you need to have over 40 acres of land I think. You need to plan ahead to have trees planted, and with the way the economy is going, that wildlife habitat fund deal could go away, so Id get on that asap.
Heres a Picture of the 40 I purchased a few years ago, and an updated picture from just a couple months ago. Its been a lot of work, but I had a little help, (thanks to Allen) but its coming around, the biggest thing IMO is to get some habitat planted asap, cuz it takes years to develop
40 Acres  2017.jpg

2021 40 acres.jpg

I planted ponderosa all the way around and a lot of lilac, apple trees, pear trees, burr oak, freeman maple, and hackberry. Planning to plant more next spring and hoping to build a house out there next summer.
Treeplan2022b.jpg
 
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