Many of you saw the article published by Only In Missouri last week (June 28th) sharing this amazing sunflower field in Columbia Bottom Conservation Area. Curious, we went to check it out. However, due to flooding earlier this year, the seedlings are only a few inches tall but are still a beautiful adventure. We'll be heading back out in a few weeks to do another flyover when they're in full bloom. 🌻
The Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is controlled by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Who farms these fields? Crops are carefully selected and planted according to an area management plan that especially benefits waterfowl during spring and fall migrations. Farmers bid on the opportunity to cultivate the rich ground, then pay to raise crops here.
Depending on when you visit, you may see the farmers planting in spring or summer and harvesting in the fall and winter. In the summer growing season, croplands are used by wildlife for food and cover. Birds pull insects from young plants. Harvested fields are often layered with cut plants and scattered grains, food for deer, turkey and waterfowl in winter. Some winter fields are planted in wheat, which comes up green during the fall and matures in spring and early summer. Geese and deer graze on the tender blades. Some plantings, such as sunflowers, are not harvested at all, but grown just for doves and other birds to eat.
When managing 1,000 to 2,000 acres of open land, farmers are essential to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The farmers play a valuable role in maintaining the open lands as a healthy habitat for wildlife.
Food for everyone... The farmers here plant and harvest corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops that help feed the world. Grains harvested from the fields become part of the foods you eat each day, such as wheat for bread and corn for cereals.
Farmers using these field agree to leave a portion of their crop standing for wildlife, too. Leftover grain is eaten by deer, turkey, waterfowl and doves and is an additional source of energy for winter survival.
Croplands are a key ingredient in the area's management. Although forests are important, many wild animals also need open land. Agriculture is an effective tool that allows farmers to take advantage of the rich bottomland soil, while providing essential open space to waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife.
Stay tuned for updates!!!