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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Student Research-in-Progress Poster Display. The Evaluation of Cover Crops for Grassland Nesting Waterfowl in Eastern South Dakota

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AUTHOR: Will Gallman, South Dakota State University

ABSTRACT: The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is the primary breeding ground for 50-80% of North American waterfowl. This landscape was historically dominated by mixed and tallgrass prairies, interspersed with wetlands, but >70% of native grassland has been lost due to widespread conversion to cropland. These changes in the landscape pose major threats to waterfowl production. Cover cropping is a re-emerging farming technique that may provide suitable nesting cover for grassland nesting waterfowl. Agronomic benefits of cover crops are well documented, but their value to wildlife is not well known. Our research will: 1) evaluate the utility of cover crops to breeding waterfowl in comparison to perennial cover; 2) determine if cover crops in rotation with row crops can successfully support grassland nesting waterfowl; 3) assess landscape scale, agricultural practice, and vegetation structure factors that may influence nest survival, and; 4) develop best management practices for managing cover crops as waterfowl nesting cover. We will nest drag cover cropped and perennial cover fields, take vegetation measurements, analyze landscape characteristics, document farming techniques, and use these covariates to model and estimate nest survival. Results of this study will help determine if cover crops provide suitable habitat for nesting waterfowl, or if this cover type acts as an ecological trap. These results will also help refine management practices that may be beneficial for wildlife and farmers in the PPR.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer