Got Nature? Blog

Posted on February 13th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Land Use, Wildlife | No Comments »

Just because the winter days are cold and dreary doesn’t mean the work to improve wildlife habitat on your property has to stop. In fact, now is a perfect time for a wide range of habitat projects. One such project is frost seeding native grasses and forbs. Here’s why you should brave the cold and consider sowing your seeds this winter.


Picture 3. Smaller fields can be established with just a hand seed spreader (left), whereas an ATV or tractor-mounted spreader is better for larger fields (right).


Picture 2. When broadcasting native seed, it should be mixed with a carrier (pelletized lime here) to help the seed flow through the spreader.


Picture 1. After frost seeding, the native grass and forb seed is visible on the ground, but the freezing and thawing of the soil will ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Its natural
If you think about how a native prairie works, many of the seeds ripen in the late summer and early fall and drop to the ground throughout the fall and winter. So, sowing seeds from January through March or frost seeding is mimicking what would have occurred naturally. By doing such, you are taking advantage of the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil. The helps with a couple things.

First, many native plant seeds – forbs (wildflowers) especially – need that natural freezing and thawing cycles to break their dormancy. Thus, frost seeding can help increase the germination of many of these species. Second, the freezing and thawing of the soil helps to work the seed into the soil, which can improve seed-to-soil contact, an important factor in planting success (picture 1).

Less time to waste
Dormant seeding or seeding once the soil dips below a certain temperature (as early as November) is another viable option to establish a native grass and forb stand. But with frost seeding, the seed remains on the soil for less time before germination. Which may reduce the seeds’ exposure to soil pathogens, rodents, birds, or other critters that may eat the seed or reduce germination.

Frost seeding native grasses and forbs can be done will minimal equipment. All you need to frost seed is a hand or mechanical seed spreader, the seed, and a carrier (picture 2). Using a hand seed spreader works great for small fields, but you may consider using an ATV or tractor-mounted mechanical spreader for larger fields (picture 3).

Another option is to use a no-till seed drill. Of course, this will require more specialized equipment, but many Soil and Water Conservation Districts or Pheasants and Quail Forever Chapters have no-till drills that you can borrow or rent to help complete your project.

When it comes to establishing native grasses and forbs, there is more than one way to plant a field. But, frost seeding might be the option that is best suited for you and your site.

For a How-To on frost seeding, check out our Frost Seeding Video below:

Frost Seeding to Establish Wildlife Food Plots & Native Grass and Forb Plantings, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, video, The Education Store
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: a land manager’s guide(pdf), The Education Store
Purdue Extension Pond and Wildlife Management Website, Purdue Extension

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resource, Purdue University

Posted on January 21st, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Land Use, Plants, Woodlands | No Comments »

ForestThis Private Woodland Owner workshop is a short course program about personal techniques for managing your woodland. The workshop will run eight (8) consecutive weeks on Tuesday evenings. Class size is limited to 40 registrants on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Dates: Tuesdays, February 4 to March 24, 2020
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: Southeast Purdue Ag Center 4425 E 350 N, Butlerville, IN 47223
Registration: for online registration view: For mailing registration view: Forest Management for the Private Woodland Owner.
Contact David Osborne at (812) 689-6511 or by email at

Program Coordinators:
David Osborne grew up in Jackson County Indiana, where he spent as much time as possible fishing and hunting the white river bottoms with his Dad. David received a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Forest Management and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from Purdue University. He currently serves as County Extension Director in Ripley County. Dave has used his wildlife and forestry background and love of game cooking to develop a series of award winning wild game and fish preparation workshops that have been presented across the state for many years.
Don Carlson graduated from Purdue University in 1995 with a Forestry degree. The early years of his career were spent as an Indiana District Forester helping forest land owners better manage their woodland resources. In April of 2000, Don made a career change to begin managing Purdue University woodlands He now is involved with managing 4000+ acres on 20 properties across Indiana. His extension efforts focus on workshops and training sessions related to chain saw safety and tree felling, invasive plant control, forest best management practices, and wildlife conservation.

Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Publication
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Dave Osborne, County Extension Director
Purdue Extension

Posted on October 18th, 2019 in How To, Land Use, Safety | No Comments »
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies

On September 19, 2019 a controlled burn was conducted on the Doak grassland and forest property, owned and managed by the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. Burn events such as this one present a unique opportunity to demonstrate how UAS can be utilized as an effective tool to both monitor the burn events in real time, but also to effectively gather data before and after the burn to map and better manage vegetation. This collection of maps, videos, and images provide a narrative on how UAS can be used as an effective tool in controlled burn management practices. Beyond controlled burns, the story should demonstrate how UAS can be used to better monitor and inventory other disturbance events, whether they are planned or unexpected.

A Collaborative Effort
The data collected for this event represents a collaborative effort between multiple colleges at Purdue University and private industry. Employees with Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (College of Agriculture) performed and managed the burn while data collection for the pre and post-burn mapping was conducted by student researchers and pilots from the Purdue School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT; Polytechnic Institute). Peter Menet and Chris Johnson from MenetAero provided aerial monitoring support throughout the controlled burn. A total of three different aircraft were used during this event. The SATT student pilots deployed a C-Astral Bramor PPX equipped with a MicaSense Altum 6 band multispectral sensor at 121 meters before and after the event for mapping purposes. MenetAero deployed a C-Astral C4Eye to monitor the burn in real time using EO/Thermal IR video with real time geographic coordinates at 121 meters while SATT students monitored the burn with a DJI M600 equipped with a Zenmuse XT2 sensor at lower altitudes.

Monitoring the Burn:
The nimble nature of UAS makes them ideally suited to deploy rapidly, and into tight situations otherwise too dangerous for ground crews and manned aircraft. Add to this the aerial perspective offered by UAS via real-time video feed, and you have the perfect platform to assist in hazard events such as fire. The real-time video feed allows the UAS pilot and crew to communicate with ground-based fire crews, providing information on potential hazards and overall fire behavior patterns. For this aerial perspective to be effective, however, the video needs to have geospatial context so what the UAS operator is seeing is effectively communicated to ground-based fire crews. Full-Motion-Video, or video that has metadata with geospatial coordinate information, is a game changer in this regard. The video below shows how software such as Remote Geosystems Line Vision Ultimate can place video in a geospatial context. The video below is being played after the flight, but Pete Menet from MenetAero had the video live streaming to his Ground Station during the flight and was able to effectively serve as an ‘eye in the sky’ to provide real time information to ground based crews. This was all done in a controlled burn, but this same technology and method is used by MenetAero during Wild Fire Events where MenetAero provides UAS services as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Interior. Peter Menet and the MenetAero crew were kind enough to donate their services and time to the controlled burn event this day as part of a collaborative research effort between industry and Purdue.

A Before and After Comparison
Prior to recent advances in UAS technology, gathering imagery at sub-centimeter accuracy and resolution immediately before and after a planned burn event would prove difficult at best. The PPK technology on the C-Astral PPX allowed us to conduct the flights without the need to layout and survey ground control markers, but still achieve centimeter level accuracy by post-processing our data with a Continuously Operating Reference Stations in close proximity. Without UAS, getting satellite data within this time frame would have been pretty much impossible, and getting a manned aircraft to do this prohibitively expensive.

Making Sense of it all through Classification Analysis
Pre-Burn Land Cover Classification
When we think of disturbance events, we often think of the unplanned ones – fire, ice storms, wind storms, floods, etc. But what about planed disturbances such as a controlled burn, or a timber harvest operation? In the case of a planned disturbance, we have the ability to inventory land cover immediately before an event, and then with classification methods, quantify that land cover. Land Use/Cover classification methods are nothing new, and go back to the very beginnings of GIS/Remote Sensing, but new here is the ability to deploy a UAS to get this data in a way that is accurate and precise enough to classify down to resolutions of several square centimeters. Add to that the imagery was gathered less than an hour before the burn and you have some amazing potential for forestland management.

*Thank you to for sharing the great work of our FNR specialists as they continue to “strengthen lives and livelihoods” here in Indiana and around the world.

Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies webpage
Effective Firebreaks for Safe Use of Prescribed Fire, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature? Blog
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Cities and towns in the U.S. contain more than 130 million acres of forests. These forests vary extensively in size and locale. An urban forest can describe an urban park such as Central Park in New York City, NY, street trees, nature preserves, extensive gardens, or any trees collectively growing within a suburb, city, or town. Urban forestry is the name given to the care and maintenance of those ecosystem areas that remain after urbanization. Data from the 2010 census indicated more than 80% of Americans live in urban centers with a population increase greater than 12%. The population of Indiana represents only 2.1% of the nation. In the last 8 years, IN has had an influx of 200,000 people which represents a population increase of 3.0%!

Urban forests, which help filter air and water, control storm water runoff, help conserve energy and provide shade and animal habitat must be maintained. As our nation becomes more urbanized, appreciate those urban foresters working to ensure we have save urban forest spaces to enjoy. These precious resources add more than curb appeal and economic value, they improve our quality of life.

What does an urban forester do? Here’s a quick answer:

Purdue Urban Forestry & Arboriculture, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources
USDA Forest Service Urban Forests, United States Department of Agriculture
US Census Bureau, United States Census Bureau

Interested in Purdue Urban Forestry? Contact:
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources

Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
What plants can I landscape with in area that floods with hard rain?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Posted on August 14th, 2019 in Alert, Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, Land Use | No Comments »

One of the most dangerous pests to trees is a human, especially with equipment.  tree injury from equipmentInjuries to trees caused by a lawn mower or weed trimmer can seriously threaten a tree’s health.

Additionally, damage to the bark layer of trees causes a long-term liability by creating a wound which leads to a defect, becoming an unsafe tree.

The site of injury is usually the root flare area, where the tree meets the turf and gets in the path of the mower or trimmer.  The bark on a tree acts to protect a very important transport system called the cambium layer.

mower injury on tree

This is where specialized tubes are located which move nutrients and water between the roots and the leaves. Bark layers can vary in thickness on different tree species.  It can be more than an inch in thickness or less than 1/16 of an inch on young, smooth-barked trees such as maples and birch trees.  This isn’t much protection against string trimmers and mowing equipment, especially the young trees.

Any type of damage or removal of the bark and the transport system can result in long-term damage.  Damage, which extends completely around the base of the tree called girdling, will result in ultimate death in a short time.

weed eater injury on tree

Tree wounds are serious when it comes to tree health. The wounded area is an opportunity for other insects and diseases to enter the tree that causes further damage. Trees can be completely killed from an attack following injuries. Fungi becomes active on the wound surface, causing structural defects from the decay.  This weakens the tree or it eventually dies, creating a risk tree to people around it.

Newly planted, young trees need all the help we can provide to become established in the landscape and these trees are often the most commonly and seriously affected by maintenance equipment.  However, injury can be avoided easily and at very low cost with these suggestions.

  1. tree with mulch at baseThe removal of turf or prevention of grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree are low-tech solutions to eliminate a serious problem. Spraying herbicides to eliminate vegetation around the base of the tree can decrease mowing maintenance costs. Be sure to use care when applying herbicides around trees.
  2. A 2-3” layer of mulch on the root zone of the tree provides an attractive and healthy environment for the tree to grow. Additionally, it provides a visual cue to keep equipment away from the tree.
  3. Also, trunk guards and similar devices can add an additional measure of protection for the tree. Using white, expanding tree guards can help improve the trees ability to withstand equipment contact, but also help to reduce winter injury.

Trees are a major asset to your property and important to our environment.  Protect our trees and preserve these valuable assets by staying away from tree trunks with any mowing or weed trimming equipment.  The damage lasts and it cannot be repaired and often results in losing your tree.

Purdue University Landscape Report Article

Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store – Purdue Extension resource center
What plants can I landscape with in areas that floods with hard rain?, Purdue Got Nature? Blog
Tree support systems, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources

Got Nature?