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Here's how a conservationist evaluates a field

Editor's note: The following information was provided by the local Natural Resources Conservation Service.

When evaluating a field for a producer, the NRCS conservationist will look at a variety of resource concerns. SWAPA+H+E is the acronym the agency uses to identify the resources. SWAPA+H+E stands for Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, Human considerations and Energy. The resources interact with each other and can be broken down into component parts.

One component of animal resources is wildlife habitat. The quality of wildlife habitat is dependent upon five components: food, water, cover,space, and nesting and birthing areas. Each of these components is just as essential as the other.

Wildlife rely on a variety of different food and water sources throughout the year. Each season offers a different source. It is important to keep each season in mind when trying to enhance wildlife food and water sources.

Cover, nesting, and birthing areas go hand in hand. Wildlife need enough cover to be able to hide and escape from predators. Most wildlife need both aerial and horizontal cover. In the winter they rely on thick, dense cover to protect them from wind and cold. During the nesting and birthing season wildlife need areas that provide sufficient cover from predators but allow enough space to birth or nest successfully.

The last component of wildlife habitat is space. Space encompasses every other component of wildlife habitat. Each species is going to have a different requirement for how much space they need. Within each of their spaces, they are going to need food, water, cover, and birthing areas.

If you are interested in improving wildlife habitat on your land look for future articles about animal components and the other resource concerns or visit the local NRCS office for more information located at 607 9th St. NE in Long Prairie or call 320-732-6618, ext. 3.