Effects of Six Disking Regimens on Quail Foods in Fallowed Fields

The effect of disking fallowed agricultural fields was studied in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Six combinations of disking frequency and time-of-year and a control were tested. Although plant communities responded by returning to an earlier serai stage, well-established perennials prevented a complete return to Stage 1 succession. The effect of disking frequency proved more influential than that of time-of-year. Treatments were evaluated for their ability to produce food plants for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). In the Piedmont, food values were found to have increased 1 year after all treatments, while control plots showed no increase. Annual March treatment extended the increase into the second year. In the Coastal Plain, no significant differences in food values were found between sampling periods regardless of treatment. Vegetation density was controlled by annual disking; density in biennially disked and control plots increased. Species diversity was shown to decrease significantly in biennial treatments in the Coastal Plain. Seed samples showed that very few plant species were present in the seed bank that were not present as standing vegetation. Relative food value of standing vegetation and costs of planted food plots should be the primary factors considered in determining whether to disk fallowed fields or plant conventional food plots.

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