115. Murphy Peterson Wildlife Drive Farming

Alligator River is host to approximately 15 different habitat types and a wide range of wildlife species. Approximately 5,000 acres are farmed on the refuge. Three cooperative farmers work the land and receive part of the harvest. The cropland areas must be artificially drained well enough to permit corn and soybeans to be grown. These crops are grown as they are on any other farm except that the use of insecticides is limited. Each spring, we drain water out of the fields. Those fields suitable for crops for wildlife will be planted. There is a 75-foot buffer between the crop field and the ditch that holds water. The buffer, or filter strip, on both sides of the field is made up of native grass to prevent sediment from flowing into drainage ditches. Buffers not only provide filters for the runoff, but also provide an area where ground-nesting birds and small mammals can hide. Of course, many hawks can be seen scouting these filter strips for their lunch.