Native Grass Establishments in CRP

Greg Brenneman, agricultural engineering field specialist


Many new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts involve seeding native warm season grasses to promote a superior wildlife habitat. Most landowners do not have experience seeding such grasses and have many questions about how the process should be carried out. Because seeding costs from $65 to $350 per acre, it is very important for landowners to seed correctly to avoid seeding failure.


To address landowner questions, test plots were completed in Washington and Iowa counties with the purpose of exploring different ways of establishing native grasses and forbs. Photos were taken and observations were noted throughout the growing season, and this information was later used at follow-up meetings.

In August and September, four wildlife habitat management field days were held at the southeast Research Farm and at Lake Sugema, as well as in Iowa County. The field days were held in conjunction with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever. Three field days were directed at producers and landowners with CRP contracts, and one provided training for conservation professionals who will advise landowners. To publicize the event, a mailing was sent to those on a list of CRP participants provided by NRCS.
Information on native grass seeding/habitat management was also presented at a Crop Advantage Meeting in Cedar Rapids and at a Master Conservationist class in Mahaska County. Additional plots are planned for the summer of 2004 in Wapello, Johnson, and Washington Counties.

In total, approximately 160 people attended the various sessions and gave positive feedback. Participants included active farmers, landowners, acreage owners, and staff members from NRCS, FSA and county conservation boards. Follow-up conversations have shown participants are practicing the seeding and weed control techniques discussed during the field days and meetings. These techniques include spraying bromegrass in the fall for improved control, and completing late fall dormant seeding as well as frost seeding for improved grasses and forbs.

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,