Landowners clear land for many reasons. According to Chris Moyle of Great Views Brush Clearing, LLC, of Lebanon, Mo., “Most farm/ranch clients are looking to increase pasture productivity or regain an aesthetic look that they remember the property having in years past. Other reasons include creating wildlife habitat or improving hunting land, timber stand management, wildfire safety barriers and fence line management.”
The long-term value of cleared land is a direct result of how the land is cleared, Moyle added. “The topsoil in the Ozarks is a precious commodity, and every producer knows they need to protect whatever is available on their property. Using the appropriate clearing methods can enhance the value of the land for future generations instead of depleting the value of the soil available.”
According to Moyle, bulldozers have damaged too much of the Ozarks land, scraping off our valuable topsoil and bringing rocks up to the surface. “Improper dozer use leaves behind holes that take decades to heal, and a surface covered with more rock than dirt.”
The modern methods of clearing, involving mulching, heavy duty mowing, and shearing or sawing of larger trees, are encouraged in order to preserve soil fertility and water quality.
Bob Hotchkiss, Northwest Area Wildlife Biologist and area WRP Coordinator for Arkansas Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), reminds landowners that it is very important for farmers to consider their soil type when making a decision to clear land for pasture.
“Since there are numerous wetland soils in Arkansas and across the country, it is important to remember that there are regulations that could restrict areas they can clear and furthermore they could possibly lose program benefits for land clearing on the wrong soils,” Hotchkiss said.
Hotchkiss would like farmers to know they should always be willing to work with USDA representatives when conducting long-term planning of their land management. Not only to make sure regulations are met for current programs a landowner may be under, but to see if other programs may help meet the needs and goals of the owner’s land management.
The old method of dozing out the vegetation may be justified if the soil will be disturbed anyway for clearing for building projects or converting an area to row crop planting. However, modern clearing methods are preferred and will work toward managing the vegetation without disturbing the topsoil.
“Just as the concept of a no-till seed drill works to prevent soil erosion, the practices of vegetation mulching, shearing and sawing of larger trees leaves the topsoil intact,” Moyle said.
To prevent re-growth of previous plants and to establish the desired plant base, land cleared by mulching or shearing/sawing can be re-seeded using the best practice for the planting involved. Landowners should work with their county extension agent or USDA representative to plan the best method to convert to any new plant species.
Other considerations to be handled when clearing land include right of way easements and utilities that may cross through land. If landowners are unsure of these items they should contact their county office or extension agent.


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