A Win for Everyone: Improve Your Land, Provide Wildlife Habitat, Get Paid

Farmers and landowners have one major thing in common—they want to take care of the land and help it be productive, whether that’s growing a crop or supporting wildlife.

It’s in that very spirit that the South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) is partnering with Pheasants Forever to promote the Saline Soils Initiative. SDCGA has provided a $100,000 matching grant to help fund this program.

About the Saline Soils Initiative

This new initiative pays a stipend and provides seed to landowners within a 27-county area to establish perennial vegetation on cropland suffering from the detrimental effects of soil salinity. The end goal is increased agricultural productivity from the land and a more critical upland wildlife habitat.

Landowners in the central region of the state will be eligible for the Saline Soils Initiative on a first-come, first-served basis until 4,000 acres have been enrolled.

“By utilizing cool season grasses and forbs to correct saline soils over time, landowners consequently improve soil health, support wildlife habitat improvements and increase average yields for crop insurance while earning a paycheck for their efforts,” says Matt Morlock, acting director for the South Dakota regional office of Pheasants Forever.

Saline Soils Are a Growing Problem

South Dakota has an estimated two million acres affected with saline soils, primarily in the Upper James River Valley. Salts derived from ancient sedimentary rock deep in the soil have risen to the surface due to a rising water table and higher than average rainfall across the state. Saline soil inhibits plant growth and crop productivity.

Correcting saline soils is done by planting perennial vegetation to soak up excess water and cycle nutrients back into the subsoil below the surface. The vegetation is also a perfect nesting cover and brood rearing habitat for wildlife populations, including ring-necked pheasants and pollinators.

How Does the Program Work?

Landowners may contact Pheasants Forever to sign a five-year contract to participate in the program. Landowners will receive a one-time incentive of $150 per acre to idle their acres that are afflicted with saline soils and will be provided free seed for planting those acres. Each contract will allow haying or grazing of the enrolled acres after July 15, which is the end of the ring-necked pheasant primary nesting season.

Find out more about the Saline Soils Initiative. For more information, contact Matt Morlock, Acting Director, South Dakota Regional Office, Pheasants Forever, at 605-692-6006.

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