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Savanna Establishment Plan for Diversity

Following an establishment plan

To maximize your investment in seed, follow the establishment plan to get the best chance of success. These timelines are guidelines. Weather and individual situations can change the process and the dates mentioned are only recommendations.

During establishment and for the life of a native planting, always consider the movement of seed with vehicles and equipment. We recommend you blow down or wash off equipment and vehicles before entering the field, especially if the equipment/vehicle was recently used in a field ripe with seed of a species you do not want in your native planting (e.g. fescue, sericea, Johnsongrass).

Choose the best timeline

If you’re not sure this is the right establishment plan for your situation, use our Planting Timeline Selector or read the Establishment Plans Overview.

Establishing diverse silvopastures, woodlands, or savannas

Silvopasture (a combination of the Latin word, silva, meaning trees and the word pasture), savanna, and woodland are roughly equivalent terms in that they signify a grassland scattered with trees. The tree plus grassland ecosystem is exceptional habitat for wildlife, and it is quite pleasing to the eye in its park-like appearance.

Planting diverse natives in a wooded area is a great way to make use of otherwise nonproductive land (e.g. rocky, wooded, south-facing hillslope; land that has been logged hard). Grazing livestock appreciate trees on a hot summer day or a blustery winter day.

Kill existing vegetation

before winter

Even when you want to retain a combination of grassland and woodland, you need to clear a good number of trees. For more on which tress to thin and which method to use, read our article about silvopasture establishment.

When the area is being cleared or the trees are being substantially thinned, there is usually not a need to apply herbicides (except as needed to control resprouts from the trees).

However, when the trees are cleared from grown up old fields that show remnant undesirable plants such as Fescue, Sericea Lespedeza, etc. then attention must be given to getting rid of these plants and one of the other establishment plans should be followed.

spring/fall before planting

If there is a large gap of time between clearing/thinning and planting, cover crops are a good idea to protect the soil and its health.

Good choices to plant around May are Sorghum Sudangrass (this species is allelopathic, so it may inhibit establishment of the fall-planted cover crops), Pearl Millet, Soybeans, Buckwheat, and Cowpeas all make great choices. Good choices to plant for fall are Spring Oats, Turnips, Tillage Radishes (also called Daikon Radish), and Rape.

Get seed-to-soil contact by drilling the seed or broadcasting and dragging. Keep in mind that bigger seeds need more soil coverage while it is easy to get too much coverage with smaller seeds.

Plant native seeds

After clearing and ensuring that seed-to-soil contact can be achieved, the seed may be planted between November 15 and February 15 without prior herbicide applications.
We’ll walk you through every step from site preparation and planting to maintenance.
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