Close this search box.

Center Pivot Corners Produce Birds

While enjoying a frigid Holiday season quail and pheasant hunt near Pratt, Kansas, with friends and colleagues Joe and Lucas Kramer, and NBCI grasslands coordinator Jef Hodges, the critical importance of properly managed center pivot corner habitat for upland birds was clearly evident.

We hunted across a vast agricultural landscape of private land dominated by center pivot irrigation, mostly planted to corn and soybeans. The late season hunt produced many birds, much to our delight and that of our Brittany and Boykin spaniels and chocolate lab. The pivot corners were covered in dense native grasses that held pheasants and corners that were adjacent to farmsteads provided the necessary protective cover for bobwhites. The irrigated ag lands provided the necessary high-energy crop residue that the birds require during cold weather.

These pivot corners exist because of the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice. Originally established by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in 2004, with the support of NBCI and state agency wildlife professionals, it currently allows enrollment of pivot corners with and without a buffer around a field perimeter. Center pivot corners are now recognized for the valuable habitat they can provide in irrigated farmland regions for the benefit northern bobwhites, prairie-chickens, pheasants, mourning doves, wild turkeys, meadowlarks as well as Monarch butterflies and pollinators, many of which are declining due to widespread habitat loss.

An allocation of 500,000 acres of CRP pivot corners was approved by FSA to benefit wildlife and qualified producers who, in return for enrolling in the program, may receive bonus payments and annual rental payments between 10 and 15 years.

There are many thousands of acres of Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds center pivot corners still eligible for funding by FSA, via the Conservation Reserve Program. This habitat should be on the landscape providing more excellent upland bird hunting opportunities like we enjoyed while in Kansas.

Interested landowners can enroll pivot corners in the continuous Conservation Reserve Program at any time by contacting their local Farm Service Agency office at or visit the website at

Tom Franklin

Now retired, Tom Franklin was the agriculture liaison for the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and served as senior director of science and policy with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Tom’s education includes a B.S. in natural resource conservation and wildlife management from the University of Maryland and a M.S. in administrative science from The Johns Hopkins University. Tom started his conservation career studying human/wildlife interactions as a wildlife biologist and executive director with the nonprofit Urban Wildlife Research Center. He then joined The Wildlife Society as Field Director where he led local and regional program development and as Policy Director where he led the government relations program. He later became Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America and also was owner of The Wildlife Authority, a nature-oriented retail business.

Tom is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and has authored articles for professional and popular outlets concerning wildlife management, association leadership and natural resource policy. His work has been recognized by the Daniel L. Leedy Urban Wildlife Conservation Award; Professional of the Year award from the Maryland/Delaware Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and received The Wildlife Society’s President’s Award and Special Recognition Service Award. He served as President of The Wildlife Society from 2008-’09 and is a Wildlife Society Fellow. He also served on two national advisory committees including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Farm and Ranchland Advisory Committee and the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council that advises the Secretaries of the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners; Steering Committee of the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition; served on the Board of Directors for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, chairs the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is a member of the Howard County, Maryland Recreation and Parks Advisory Board.

Tom is an avid outdoorsman and especially enjoys fishing, hunting, bird dogs, nature study and managing habitat for wildlife on his family farms in Virginia.