The restoration process on a RIM WRP site can take several years to complete. Most sites contain marginal cropland areas that are restored by seeding them to native prairie. Often times, the seed mixes contain as many as 30 different species of grasses and forbs.
A popular way to seed prairie is to use a no-till drill, which is specially designed to handle the unique shapes and sizes of prairie seed. Most of the time, seeding is done in May or June.
The seed can also be broadcast. Below is a picture showing the snow seeding technique. Snow seeding is done in late winter as the snow is melting. The seed is broadcast during the cool mornings and then allowed to settle into the snow and soil as the afternoon temperatures rise above freezing.
Growing a prairie takes time because of the complexity of the root systems. Some of the plants will develop roots that reach down 15 feet below the surface. The young seedlings put most of their growing energy into developing roots before they start growing above ground. In most cases, the plants may only reach a couple inches tall during the first growing season.
After a few years, the cover should start to fully develop. The warm season grassess like Big Bluestem and Indian Grass will be easily recognized, and the many forb species will be blooming.
Prescribed fires are conducted to manage the prairie vegetation. Prairie is a disturbance dependent ecosystem - meaning disturbances such as fire, grazing, and drought are an important component to keeping prairies healthy and productive.
The regrowth following a prescribed burn is quick and a lush green. The first year after the burn, the vegetation will be thicker, taller, and will likely produce more seed.