Apr 15, 2011
What needs to be taken into consideration when setting up new wildlife browsing areas?
According to Dr. Karl-Heinz Neuner, Regional Consultant for K+S KALI GmbH in Germany, the following criteria are essential for setting up new wildlife browsing areas:
Selection of an appropriate location and situation
Wildlife browsing areas should be situated within or in close vicinity of preferred habitats sleeping areas or thoroughfares, but far removed from main roads, to prevent casualties from game crossing. Browsing areas should not be too humid (ground water level on lighter soils deeper than 60 cm, on medium or heavier soils below a depth of 80-100cm) and should not be too shady (sun promotes clover growth).
Preference should be given to:
- calm and – if at all possible – sunny locations;
- in densely forested areas: clearings, waysides, untravelled forest aisles, under power supply lines, blacklines;
- areas spread all over the territory.
Agriculturally used areas directly abutting woodlands are less suited.
Shape and size of the browsing area
Many smaller browsing areas spread over the entire territory seem to work better than few, large areas. Ideal size is 0.2 – 0.5 hectare, while straight edges simplify use of machines for maintenance.
Scheduling fodder provision and ploughing
For female cloven-hoofed game, the demand for fodder is highest during the lactation period, from early May until the end of July. This coincides with a certain shortage of natural browsing in the forest. Male hoofed game shows its greatest demand even earlier in springtime (February – April). Planning therefore needs to happen the year before.
Sowing is possible until the end of May, e.g. by using broadcast sowing followed by treatment with a harrow; it may be advisable to finish by rolling, to speed up germination, particularly during dry periods. The end of August is the best time for autumn sowing, approximately the same time oilseed rape is sown. Pay attention to selecting the right mix of seeds (for more information, check hunting journals, agricultural trade publications and field crop producers).
For establishing a new browsing area, it is necessary to apply a basic fertilization of approximately 120kg P2O5 ha-1, 160kg K2O ha-1 and 40kg MgO ha-1. On humus-poor soils it may be advisable to add nitrogen, at a rate of 20-50kg N ha-1. A high proportion of legumes may render mineral nitrogen fertilization obsolete. Don’t forget liming. A moderate application of lime nitrogen also has phytosanitary effect, inhibiting the growth of pest plants.