The one-acre Wilmer Prairie site was established as a pilot project to test the efficacy of seeding native prairie species on an old-field site which, in part, had a seasonally high water table in an otherwise well-drained sandy soil. The seasonally wetter portion was unsuitable for machinery operation. The hopes were that the native species planted in the adjoining machine-accessible area would eventually spread into this wetter unseeded area. In the winter of 1992 the invading woody species on the entire site were removed and stumps treated. The herbaceous ground cover on the slightly higher southern 2/3rds of the site was treated with herbicide in August 1993, while the seasonally wet area was left untreated. In late spring and early summer of 1994 the treated portion of site was tilled and hand-broadcast seeded with dry prairie species. Following periodic high-mowing of the competing weed competition in 1994 and 1995, the entire site (seeded and unseeded) was burned in 1996—and every 3 years, thereafter. Since 1996, as a result of periodic burning placing competitive stress on the non-native cool season herbaceous species that were on the wetter third of the site, the previously-seeded native species have gradually established themselves amongst these weakened non-native species.

Preparing seed for mixing. Note yellow hand broadcast seeder designed for native grasses. (May 1994)

Firming seeded area with roller to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. (June 1994)

High-mowing of weed competition one month after seeding. Note undisturbed/unseeded part of the site beyond nesting boxes .(July 1994)

Black-eyed Susan in second growing season. This species serves as colorful “nurse crop” to outcompete weed species in open areas until slower germinating native species become established. Its numbers diminish over the following growing seasons. (July 1995)