By Bill Kleiman
The Nachusa Grasslands seasonal crew were led by Anna Scheidel and Matt Nugent.
The Nachusa crew harvested, processed and planted enough seed to plant two units, including this 25 acres at Franklin Creek Natural Area, FCNA, which is an Illinois DNR site next to Nachusa Grasslands.
They hand harvested seed of 192 species of plants with a total weight of all these seeds at 1,766 pounds, which is nine tenths of a ton. This weight includes chaff as we don’t clean our seed from the seed heads and bits of stems.
This seed was used to make various mix types from dry to wet, savanna to woodland. At this planting they used 300 pounds of the dry-mesic seed mix, 850 pounds of the mesic seed mix, 252 pounds of wet seed mix, and 125 pounds of Canada rye for the border edge.
The livestock trailer we use to haul the barrels of seed to the site.
We use antique seeders to drop the seed onto the ground. The seed was planted directly onto the corn stubble. The last several years we have not been burning off the corn stubble. We feel the stubble gives some benefit to keeping winter rains from washing seed away. Also during the summer drought of the first year the stubble may give some moisture benefit to the fragile emerging seedlings.
The crew makes at least two passes with the seeders to get good coverage.
To read the detailed report of this prairie planting is available with the others at Friends of Nachusa Grasslands:
Was there an advantage in using drop seeders rather than a seed drill in this application?
I have not used seed drills with the drill left in place. I have agreed with comments I heard that drills place the seed too deep in the soil. If others have used drills let us know what you find. A drill used in a lawn sod might be a good tool. When I used a drill in a harvested corn/soy field I took the drop tubes off which simply made the drill a drop seeder.
If the seeding is being made into unburned corn stubble, then is corn being planted and harvested every year or is the corn emerging from remnant seeds? How are the tall corn plants present during the spring and summer affecting the emergence or growth of the native seeds being planted?
There is no corn/soy being planted. Those crops are done. We are planting the prairie seed into the left over crop residue/stubble from this year. What emerges with our prairie seeds are annual/biennial agricultural weeds like fox tail and mares tail. We like to think of these weeds as a type of nurse crop.