Playa Country

Tuesday's at 6:44 pm CT during All Things Considered

Playa Country, a project of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (www.pljv.org),  is a weekly radio show focusing on the wildlife, wetlands and prairies of the western Great Plains, and the people who manage them. On the show, we talk to conservation and wildlife experts, as well as farmers, ranchers and land managers, about topics such as removing invasive shrubs to provide more water and forage, grazing management, the impact of fire on the landscape, and the important role playa wetlands have in recharging the Ogallala aquifer.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Conservation Easements: Preserving Ranching Heritage in Central Kansas Hill Country

Credit Michael Pearce / kansas.com

Chester Peterson, Jr., of Lindsborg, Kansas, owns grass and cropland on the western margin of the Flinthills, a rolling landscape of tall- and shortgrass prairie largely unchanged since settlers crossed it in the 1860s.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Conservation Easements: USDA Farm Bill Programs

Credit USDA / NRCS

Over its 80-year history, the federal government's Farm Bill program refined soil, water and habitat conservation programs. Along the way, its strategy changed from "let's see how many we can sign up" to a more focused  "best bang for the buck" approach to conservation, spending funds on projects to conserve fragile landscapes.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Conservation Easements: Water Conservation in Northeast Colorado

Credit Lori Potter / Kearney Hub

When Denver physician and sportsman Kent Heyborne bought land in northeast Colorado, his intent was to leave it undeveloped as bird habitat.

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Playa Country
3:04 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Conservation Easements and Land Trust Organizations

Credit Ducks Unlimited

    More than half of western Great Plains farmers are near retirement age. Many are considering conservation easements as a way of protecting the land from development and subdivision long after they're gone.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Soil Health: Kansas Producer Finds Cover Crops Provide Forage and Improve Soil

Credit USDA / NRCS

The Thompson Farm and Ranch straddles the Kansas-Nebraska line. Drought in this region is entering its fourth year. The Thompson family uses no-till practices to grow dryland wheat and corn and also run cows.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Soil Health: Nebraska Farmer Learns New Tricks With Cover Cropping

Credit Harvest Public Media

Nebraska farmer Bill Volkmer describes himself as an "old farmer." But this old farmer is willing to learn some new tricks. He started planting cover crops in 2011.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Soil Health: Choosing the Right Cover Crop

Credit Jason Baker / Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo

Playas benefit from practices that result in good soil health.

Improving the health and quality of the soil is one of the easiest and most effective ways producers can increase crop productivity, hence profitability, while benefitting wildlife and improving the environment. No-till practices, plus the planting of cover crops, mean less soil moves as runoff into playas during rain events.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative: Good Soil Health Practices Benefit Playas

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Grassland Bird: Mountain Plover

Mountain Plover
Credit planetofbirds.com

The Mountain Plover is a shorebird that spends little time on the beach and lives on the open Plains and nowhere near mountains.

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Playa Country
5:56 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Citizen Science: eBird

Credit The Internet Bird Collection

eBird was launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It helps bird-watchers keep records of observations.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Citizen Science: Mid-winter Eagle Survey

Bald Eagle at Rest
Credit Wikimedia Commons

When America adopted the bald eagle as the national symbol in 1782, there may have been 100,000 nesting eagles. But the eagle population declined, in part due to pesticides.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Citizen Science: Breeding Bird Survey

Breeding Bird Survey Trends, 1996-2005
Credit Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The North American Breeding Bird Survey is a cooperative effort between the United States and Canada.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Citizen Science: Bird Banding

Credit Powdermill Nature Reserve

How do scientists get the data they need to study birds? A lot of data is collected by volunteers, "citizen scientists," through bird surveys and bird banding.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Playas: Nebraska Landowner Story

Credit Courtesy Ben Wheeler/Pheasants Forever and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission

Dave Hilfterty grows dryland winter wheat and irrigated corn in Perkins County, Nebraska.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Kansas Producer Group Uses Soil Practices to Preserve Moisture

Credit Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

A Playa Rehab on the West Texas Plains

Credit Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Mark Hilliard of Hale County, Texas, says, "This is cotton country. It's rare to find a pristine playa lake."

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Wetlands Reserve Easement in Kansas

Credit Michael Pearce / kansas.com

McPherson County landowner Dale Schmidt bought ground he intended to farm, but often it was too wet to plant, or to harvest.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Playa Health: The Importance of Buffers

Credit Texas Parks and Wildlife

Research indicates that a buffer surrounding a playa lake, consisting typically of native grasses and forbs, prevents migration of upland topsoil and farm chemicals into lowland wetlands such as playa lakes and rainwater basins.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Rainwater Basins, the Central Flyway and Migratory Birds

Credit Chris Helzer / The Nature Conservancy

Nebraska's rainwater basin region is beneath the Central Flyway, used by tens of millions of birds migrating to the prairie pothole regions of the Dakotas, Canada and beyond to nest and mate.

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Playa Country
1:28 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Playa Sedimentation: Causes and Fixes

Playa lakes are effective vectors for groundwater recharge and water filtration, but that assumes they're in a healthy state.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative: Converting to Dryland Farming

Credit Farm Foundation

Southwest Kansas producer Steve Arnold had been a big irrigator. Ten wells, numerous pivot irrigation systems and 4-wheel-drive tractors on a farm near Johnson City.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative: No-till and Cover Crops Help Rainwater Basins

Playa Lake in Texas Panhandle
Credit USGS

South-central Nebraska producer John Kinley has a three-acre rainwater basin in a crop field. He talks about progressive practices such as no-till production and cover cropping.

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Playa Country
8:01 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative: Good Soil Health Practices Benefit Playas

NRCS district conservationist discussing soil health improvement with producer
Credit Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says there are four principles to improving soil health:

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Playa Country Episode
8:01 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Grazing Management: Patch Burning Research

Prescribed Burn
Credit Oklahoma Grazing Lands Conservation Association

This week on Playa Country, prescribed burning. Oklahoma State University's Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology & Management is researching effects of limited prescribed burning or "patch burning" to create a mosaic of patches across the landscape.

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Benefits of Grazing Management
8:01 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Landowner Story: Managed Intensive Grazing on Birdwell and Clark Ranch

Credit Jeff Vanuga / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Deborah Clark and her husband Emory apply the principles of holistic ranch management, and they use managed intensive grazing on their stocker cattle operation on 14,000 acres in north-central Texas.

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Good for Livestock and Wildlife
8:01 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Landowner Story: Deferred Grazing on Grissom Ranch

Credit Scott Bauer / USDA, NRCS

Rancher Grady Grissom discusses the lessons he's learned from deploying a deferred-rotation system of managed grazing on his 14,000-acre ranch. But he doesn't like the term "grazing system.

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Good Management Practices
8:01 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Grazing Management Benefits Livestock & Wildlife

Credit Scott Bauer / USDA, NRCS

Good grazing management is good for the livestock producer and for wildlife.  When grazing-land is healthy, cattle put on the weight, and birds benefit from healthy grassland.

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Playa Country Episode
8:01 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Hunters & Birders, Not Mutually Exclusive

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Hunters and birders have more in common than might be assumed. Both support the conservation of wetlands and other bird habitat. Some people even identify themselves as both a hunter and a birder, as well as a conservationist.

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Playa Country Episode
8:01 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Seven Reasons to Buy a Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp is the best kept secret in bird conservation. Buying the annual stamp is a simple, direct way for people to contribute to wetland and grassland conservation. This episode presents seven reasons to buy a stamp.

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Playa Country Episode
8:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Duck Stamp: Not Just for Hunters

Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

If you think the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamp, the "Duck Stamp," is just for waterfowl hunters, think again! Whether you hunt, bird, photograph wildlife and scenery, collect stamps or conserve habitat, you'll want to purchase this stamp.

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