A recent study from the University of Michigan claims that too much wildlife habitat, like CRP and native grasslands are being “sodbusted” to grow corn in the Prairie Pothole Region, for additional ethanol production. Due to a lack of statistics, the study doesn’t show clear data on how much of the land used to plant corn was coming off crop rotation versus previously unfarmed acres.
In 2007, South Dakota had a record corn and pheasant crop. Corn acreage was up 9% and the pheasant population was at its peak over a 10 year period. Why? Because we had ideal weather conditions for the corns growing stages and the pheasant’s hatching season. Not only is corn a great habitat for pheasants, but also a main feed source.
State statistics show that the years with the highest pheasant populations have corresponded with years among the highest acreage of corn planted.
Many farmers use corn and pheasants as a cash crop.
The take home message is this: corn, conservation and wildlife can coexist.