Buffer zones around fields prevent deer damage

A soil and water conservation agent says planting grasses and legumes along the perimeter of fields not only helps control soil and nutrient loss, but also reduces deer damage to crops.

Shane Wucherphennig from Wood County, Wisconsin tells Brownfield buffers usually take deer out of the crop because they prefer to eat the species planted in the buffers. “So, if you provide that for them, we’re seeing based on some of the crop appraisals we’ve done, where these traditional crops had the field border damage now almost being completely eliminated by these buffers because they prefer that.”

Wucherphennig says the State of Wisconsin pays a considerable amount of money for wildlife damage to crops, and planting the buffers can reduce that cost while protecting soil and water. “If this was a tool that could be used to reduce or almost eliminate the need for that damage program, funds being used to pay claims for damage, it could be a win-win that way as well.”

Wucherphennig says ideally, he’d like to see some of the state dollars now used for wildlife abatement used to help farmers establish harvestable buffer zones, which would benefit farmers, the environment, and save the state money in the long run.

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