Converting Ag to Habitat


I have a few acres of field that are currently being farmed in beans. I'd like to take this field out of production and allow it to become deer habitat. My issue is that this field has always had a marestail (aka horse weed) problem. So if I just let it go, it will be taken over by mares tail, at least initially. I guess it will eventually turn into woody cover. My question is should I attempt to remove the marestail during this conversion, or just let nature take its course? I plan on treating invasive species as the field matures. Thoughts?

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Don't worry about the marestail if you are just going to let it go back to nature. It will actually give you some tall cover while you are waiting for everything else. However, if you plan on establishing NWSGs, that's a different story. It can really hamper establishment time and can even cause some failures.
The biggest thing I can tell you is that if you want a specific habitat type or the like you need to plan for succession can happen fairly quickly.

What I mean is that if you want shrubs...plant them now. If you want a specific mix of tree types....plant them now. If you want prairie get the idea. My point is that it is my experience is that you will get more of the same from the surroundings. Mostly because that is what is in the seed bank and obviously grows well in that location. That doesn't mean it's what YOU want. You may also have to do some work to keep it at a particular growth stage as well. The biggest issue I have seen is areas with a dense sod of cool season grasses....those need to go. Otherwise....mother nature will bounce back and it may take 20 to 30 years, but you can help it out a bit as well.

I have seen folks mold board plow an area and spread seeds they have collected and then disk to help with the diversity as well. Biggest issue will be with invasives. They seem to love disturbed soil... Bird wires can also help the birds deposit seeds for you as well.