Night burn at MPF’s Coyne Prairie. Photo: Jerod Huebner

Prairie Management

Prairie is an ecosystem that evolved with disturbance including fire and in some cases grazing by bison, elk, and other animals. In order to sustain native biodiversity of original, unplowed prairies, they must be managed.

Critically important to managing prairie are carefully planned prescribed fires and vigilant treatment of invasive plants, both non-native herbaceous plants like sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) and Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense), and native trees including eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana).

The Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) strives to use the best and most innovative management techniques on its properties and to help private landowners do the same. These techniques include annual, prescribed burning on one-third to one-half of each of its original prairies; targeted treatment of invasive plants; and mechanical removal of encroaching trees.

MPF also expands prairie habitat by establishing prairie plantings on degraded land next to several of its original prairie remnants. This works includes site preparation, collection and processing of seeds from MPF’s remnant prairies, propagation of some seedlings for transplant, and direct seed broadcast. These plantings are mowed several times in the first years of their establishment to reduce weed competition.

In this MPF webinar, MPF’s Director of Prairie Management Jerod Huebner provides information on establishing prairie plantings.

This graphic illustrates the importance of mowing plantings early in their establishment:

sign showing three years in the life of a native planting and how to care for growing natives

Consult this comprehensive guide from the Missouri Prairie Journal by MPF’s Director of Prairie Management, Jerod Huebner on establishment of prairie plantings.

Other resources for management of original prairies or establishment of prairie plantings:

Prairie Management articles from the Missouri Prairie Journal: Click Here

Presettlement Prairie Documents and Maps

Prairie Planting Guide

Invasive Species

Peer-reviewed, published articles on prairie ecology, reconstruction, and related topics:

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