Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Nebraska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Nebraska Project

Better soil for birds

June 2013 - May 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

The primary outcome objective is to provide landowners enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Nebraska’s Niobrara Valley with a better understanding of how four, major mid-contract management activities impact key attributes of soil health. As landowners and managers are faced with the arduous task of weighing the various economic and ecological tradeoffs of different mid-contract management strategies, soil health is often overlooked with potentially detrimental consequences for the long-term value and resilience of their land. This is especially important as landowners are faced with the option to re-enroll in CRP, with uncertain climatic and economic futures looming on the horizon. We believe that our work will render CRP lands more valuable and resilient over the long-term for private landowners by incorporating soil ecological knowledge into more recent management objectives that often focus exclusively on promoting short-term upland bird habitat. More specifically, our research objectives include: 1. Tracking and establishing a set of measurable soil health attributes as identified by private landowners, and how they are differentially impacted by the four major mid-contract management strategies; and 2. Providing applicable, relevant information to private landowners, land managers and USDA NRCS personnel in an effort to promote smarter, adaptive management decisions that balance short- and long-term objectives to meet CRP contract requirements and landowner-desired outcomes alike.