Pure Air Natives
Native Grass and Wildflower Seeds
We understand the world of native plants can be difficult to navigate but we’re here to help guide you through the process. We have over 25 years in the native seed business and well over 100 years of collective ecological restoration experience on our team, which translates to the right solution for your property.
Native Prairie Restoration
Suggestions for Preparation of Soil
The goal is to have good seed-soil contact without placing the seeds too deep. Most native seeds do well at two times the thickness of the seed. The soil should be slightly firm, but not compacted, and a fluffy seedbed will allow the seed to work into the ground to deep. If the plot is weedy, take the time to control weeds before planting. Control weeds by multiple herbicide applications or many light tillages before planting. It is best to sacrifice a growing season to utilize weed control methods before seeding the plot if it has an existing grass or weed cover. Cropping with Roundup Ready or Liberty Link soybean and seeding into the stubble after harvest is a suitable method
There are different methods of installing seed. The choice of method is dependent upon the type of area you are working with and timing. Broadcast seeding in winter gives the seed a chance to work down into the soil to the proper depth as the seed would do in the wild. Seeding later than mid-March can require no-till installation but also requires great care to not place the seed too deep. A no-till drill can be used to broadcast by taking the drop tubes off of the no-till units and letting the seed tube hang down and drop directly on the ground.
The preferred timing is after the ground has frozen & thawed and has loosened up a thin layer of soil on the surface through frost heaving. A carrier is sometimes needed to accommodate the small amount of seed to be spread over a large area. Suitable carriers are rice hulls, vermiculite, pelletized lime for acidic ground, and oats for erodible soil. The rate of a carrier is dependent on the no-till drill used. Drills with a fluffy seed box usually put out 8-10 lbs per acre at the lowest setting, and the balance needs to be made up with a carrier if there are no warm season grasses in the mix. When spreading seed, always go a little bit light to ensure you have enough seed to cover your planting area. You can still go over high priority areas twice.
Some seed should be visible after drilling. Get off of the tractor and verify the depth. Mixes can be put through the fluffy box with a carrier.
Seeding Dates for Optimum Results
For best results, plant mixes with forbs from November 15 to March 31.
For best results, plant mixes with a heavy grass content from April to June.
What to Expect Each Year After Planting
Year One: (The Prairie Sleeps) The individual species in your native planting are mostly perennials and are putting down roots rather than large amounts of top growth the first year. It is normal to have a mixture of seedlings and weeds in the first year. Most of the weeds are annuals and mowing before seeds mature is necessary. This is temporary! You’ll see several annual or biennial native flowers blooming. The best way to manage the problem is to mow vegetation down to 6-12″ when vegetation reaches 18″. It is essential to adjust the mowing height to knock down any tall weed seed heads and to avoid mowing down shorter seedlings. Watering and the use of fertilizer is unnecessary and only benefits the weeds in growing.
Year Two: (The Prairie creeps) At this stage, the native plants have had time to establish their root systems. They have now begun to focus on their above-ground growth, and during this time, the native plants begin to take over the area in place of the weeds. At this point, the best management strategy is to continue the mowing process through mid-June. You may also spot-spray with appropriate herbicides if you are comfortable with plant ID.
Year Three: At year three, now you’ll see blooms from Spring-Fall. The best management practice is to continue mowing or to burn the area during the winter season (December – February).
Native Prairie Restoration (pdf)
These USDA/NRCS assistance programs (aka cost-share programs) have been designed to address natural resource concerns on your land. They’re 100% voluntary and funded through the Farm Bill, to protect our valuable natural resources, such as soil, water, timber, & wildlife to name a few. Some programs offer reimbursement for implementing different practices (like EQIP & CSP) while other programs offer annual rent payments for continued use (such as CRP).
The process is simple.
- Stop into your local USDA Service Center and speak with an NRCS representative.
- A representative will visit your property, making note of your goals/intentions for the land as well as any resource concerns. An application will be filled out & submitted.
- Each year, applications are approved & landowners are awarded contracts based on ecological impact and overall benefit to the land.
- The landowner then agrees to the the contract and follows the plan created by the NRCS to address the natural resource concerns.
5 Steps to Assistance (pdf)
Soil health depends on diversity, specifically soil biodiversity. In the 1990s ‘soil quality’ was a commonly used term that often people confuse for ‘soil health’. Soil Quality is used to describe the quality of soil for individual characteristics, such as planting for corn or soybeans. While the two terms still overlap, soil health is inherently different in that it refers to soil as living rather than inert & lifeless. Below you will find some information about developing and maintaining soil health.
Many wildlife species benefit from a healthy & balanced habitat, including deer, quail, turkeys, song birds, small mammals, bears, elk, and others. Be sure to check out the resources below to help you achieve balance on your property to maximize your wildlife encounters.
Here is a collection of resources that do not fit into the categories above.
What did you say?
Because of our experience in ecological restoration and native seed plantings, we sometimes forget there can be confusion in the terms people hear and read. Below is a list of terms/names/acronyms often used in our world and the definitions for them.
- Agronomist – an expert in the science of soil management and crop production.
- Biologist – a scientist in the field of life and living matter.
- Botanist – a scientist who studies plants, including flowering plants, moss, seaweed, and more.
- Bulk Seed – total weight of seed, inert matter, seed coat, weed seeds, and/or more.
- Conservationist – a person who advocates for the protection & preservation of the environment and wildlife.
- Controlled or Prescribed Burn – an intentionally set fire for the purposes of prairie restoration, farming, forest management or other ecological needs.
- Cool Season Grass (CSG) – the term refers to both native and non-native invasive species of grasses that flourish in cooler temperatures often found in spring & fall.
- Cover Crop – a crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
- Cultivar – a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding, typically for isolating & propagating specific traits.
- Detention Basin – are surface storage facilities for stormwater runoff. They control the flow of stormwater and facilitate the settling of particulate pollutants.
- Diversity – a range of different things, in the case of nature it would be plant species, wildlife, insects, micro-organisms, etc.
- Dormant – alive but not actively growing. Also referred to as ‘dormancy’
- Ecotype – a distinct and particular habitat/environment of which specific plants and animals species occupy.
- Forb – a herbaceous flowering plant, aside from a grass.
- Genetic Origin – an area where a native plant existed and originated from prior to European Settlement.
- Genus – a biology term used to reference a taxonomic category in where it ranks higher than species and lower than family.
- Germination – the sprouting of a seedling from a seed.
- Glade – a geography term describing a clearing within a forest and can consist of open meadows or rock-outcrops and many things in between.
- Graminoid – in ecology this refers to a herbaceous plant with a grass-like morphology.
- Grassland – sizable open areas consisting of predominately grass species.
- Habitat – the natural territory or environment of plants, animals, or other organisms.
- Horticulturist – an expert in plant cultivation & management.
- Inert Matter – refers to dirt, sand, stones, sticks gloms, stems, broken seed, and other miscellaneous non-seed items.
- Inoculants/Inoculate – introduction of a bacteria seeds, most commonly legumes, to ensure the proper rhizobia species are present and available in the soil for plants growing.
- Invasive – spreading prolifically and undesirably.
- Larva – the active immature form of an insect, especially one that differs greatly from the adult.
- Legume – a leguminous plant member of the pea family.
- Migration – the seasonal, predictable movement of animals from one region to another.
- Missouri Yellow Tag/Missouri Source Identified Class – is an antiquated process of certification for native plants grown within the state boundaries to help ensure the plant is genetically grown to withstand Missouri’s growing conditions.
- Monarch – refers to the Monarch Butterfly, a species who’s survival is dependent upon the availability of milkweed plants.
- Native – native plants are indigenous to a given area and includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.
- Non-native – plants that have been introduced from other regions or countries.
- Noxious Weeds – a weed which is considered to be harmful to the environment or animals, which is determined by each state.
- Oak Savanna – lightly forested grassland where oaks are the dominant trees.
- Pollinator – an animal or insect that moves pollen from plant to plant, more specifically from male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. Also, pollinator is used to reference a plant which produces pollen.
- Prairie – an ecosystem which is considered by ecologists to be part of the temperate grasslands, scrublands biome and savannas.
- Prairie Restoration – a conservation effort to restore prairie lands that were destroyed.
- Pure Live Seed (PLS) – refers to the amount of live, viable seed in a lot of bulk seed that is capable of developing into seedlings.
- Remnant Prairie – refers to a prairie that is enact and undisturbed by European settlement and has been around for hundreds of years.
- Retention Basin – an artificial lake with vegetation around the perimeter and includes a permeant pool of water in it’s design, used to manage stormwater runoff to prevent flooding and erosion.
- Rhizome – a horizontal underground stem that is continuously growing and puts out lateral shoots and roots at intervals.
- Scarification – involves weakening, opening or otherwise altering the coat of a seed to encourage germination, often done mechanically, thermally, and chemically.
- Sedge – a grasslike plant with triangular stems and inconspicuous flowers, typically growing in wet ground.
- Seed Tag – a seed mix or blend comes with a seed tag listing the species in the mix as well as other pertinent information such as origin, purity, germination rate, etc.
- Seed Test – used to determine germination, purity, noxious weed content, other weed content, inert matter and in turn PLS. Seed testing is regulated by The Association of Official Seed Certification Agencies (AOSCA) law; a seed test should be performed every 10 months to ensure seed viability.
- Soil Erosion – the loss of soil by natural and/or man-made causes, can be gradual or fast.
- Soil Health – soil’s ability to function as a living ecosystem, striving for balance to sustains plants, animals, and humans.
- Soil Testing – a test of the soil to determine what management practices are necessary to provide vital macro and micro nutrients for soil health and a plant’s success.
- Source Origin – specific areas or locations where plant materials have been collected or grown.
- Species – an individual or kind belonging to a biological genus or group.
- Stewardship/Maintenance – responsible planning and management of resources.
- Stratification – in horticulture, this is the process of treating seeds to simulate natural conditions the seeds must experience before germination can occur.
- Variety – a subdivision of a specific species, such as Cave-In-Rock Switchgrass, Kanlow Switchgrass, and Blackwell Switchgrass are all different varieties of Switchgrass.
- Viability – a seed’s ability to germinate, it’s either viable or not viable. If not, the seed will not germinate under any circumstances.
- Warm Season Grass (WSG) – sometimes referred to
- NWSG (native warm season grasses) – these species will prosper in the summer heat and growing conditions.
- Weed – an undesirable plant species.
- Wetlands – a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either seasonally or permanently, and aquatic plants are present on the landscape.
- Wildflower – a flower growing in the wild with implications that the plant probably is neither a hybrid nor a selected cultivar and appears in no way different than the native plant growing naturally in the wild.
- Woodlands – low density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade which can support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants.
- ACEP – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
- ALE – Agricultural Land Easement
- CIG – Conservation Innovation Grant
- CREP – Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
- CRP – Conservation Reserve Program
- CSG – Cool Season Grass
- CSP – Conservation Stewardship Program
- DNR – Department of Natural Resources
- EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives Program
- FSA – Farm Service Agency
- GRP – Grassland Reserve Program
- HEL – Highly Erodible Land
- HELC – Highly Erodible Lands Conservation
- LFP – Livestock Forage Program
- MDA – Missouri Department of Agriculture
- MDC – Missouri Department of Conservation
- MNRC – Missouri Natural Resources Conference
- NRCS – National Resources Conservation Service
- NWQI – National Water Quality Initiative
- NWSG – Native Warm Season Grass
- PLS – Pure Live Seed
- RCPP – Regional Conservation Partnership Program
- SWCD – Soil and Water Conservation Districts
- TSI – Timber Stand Improvement
- USDA – United States Department of Agriculture
- WRE – Wetlands Reserve Easement
- WRP – Wetland Reserve Program
- WSG – Warm Season Grass