Pheasants Forever program "Corners for Wildlife" will pay farmers to plant grass cover on corners of irrigated circles to produce more habitat for pheasant and quail.

For decades, Kansas center pivot irrigators have planted a variety of crops on the dry land corners of irrigated quarter sections. A new program in Kansas will give producers a new option for payment and provide more acres for pheasants and quail.

Pheasants Forever has initiated a new “Corners for Wildlife” program in Kansas that will transform corners on irrigated fields into new habitat for pheasant and quail by planting grass on irrigated circle corners. Producers will receive payment for acres put in the program. Farmers get financial benefit out of the program and the birds benefit, too.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Christiansen said. The program has been tried out successfully in Nebraska so Pheasants Forever decided to put it to the test in Kansas.

“This is the first time we’ve ever tried it in Kansas,” said Jacob Christiansen, private land conservationist for Pheasants Forever.

For information on the program, contact Christiansen at 620-549-3480 or Brittany Smith, coordinating wildlife biologist and wetland specialist at 785-462-3368 or bsmith@pheasantsforev- er.org.

Corners for Wildlife is available state wide but there are areas where funding will be focused to meet resource concerns that includes areas of biological significance, wildlife habitat opportunities, impact on water quality and quantity that fall within a Local Enhanced Management Area. One such area is the Rattlesnake Creek and Quivira LEMA. That area covers significant portions of Stafford and Kiowa Counties and a small portion of the northwest corner of Pratt County, according to project information from Pheasants Forever.

Pheasants Forever started taking program applications two weeks ago and Christiansen, whose office is in St. John, has had a lot of response to the program.

“In my area, I’ve had a ton of interest,” Christiansen said.

The program is on a first-come first-serve basis so there is no deadline to sign up. Program enrollment requests will be subject to funding availability and may change on a year to year basis.

“This is the first time we’ve ever tried it in Kansas,” said Jacob Christiansen, private land conservationist for Pheasants Forever.

Corners for Wildlife is available statewide but there are areas where funding will be focused to meet resource concerns that includes areas of biological significance, wildlife habitat opportunities, impact on water quality and quantity that fall within a Local Enhanced Management Area. One such area is the Rattlesnake Creek and Quivira LEMA. That area covers significant portions of Stafford and Kiowa Counties and a small portion of the northwest corner of Pratt County, according to project information from Pheasants Forever.

Pheasants Forever started taking program applications two weeks ago and Christiansen, whose office is in St. John, has had a lot of response to the program.

“In my area, I’ve had a ton of interest,” Christiansen said.

The program is on a first-come first-serve basis so there is no deadline to sign up. Program enrollment requests will be subject to funding availability and may change on a year to year basis. Local staff will fill out a Notice of Interest form and send it to Smith who will give final approval. Forms will be accepted even when annual funding is exhausted. They will be put on a waiting list for the next year.

For those farmers that sign up for the program, planting will start in the spring although there is an option to plant in the winter. Some farmers may choose to plant now. Some producers claim winter planting helps naturalize the seeds and improves germination. But Christiansen said he prefers planting in the spring.

Farmers who planted wheat or soybeans last year will have to wait a year before they can plant their corners to grass.

The producer will have to plant the seed using a special drill for native grasses that has an agitator in the seed box to assure even coverage. Pheasants Forever doesn’t have a planter but they know where they can get one for free or the producer can rent a machine.

Depending on moisture and soil quality, producers can expect to get good bird population increase results withing three to fire years. That's about the time it takes for the grass to be come established, Christiansen said.

Producers will receive contract payments once a Pheasants Forever biologist certifies the project as complete.

Producers in the program will plant the corners on irrigated fields with a combination of grasses and forbs (broad leaf flowering plants with seeds) that provide cover and food for pheasants and quail, Christiansen said.

Corners for Wildlife is similar to the Conservation Reserve Program which paid producers to put cropland into grass for a set period of time.