Quantifying White-tailed Deer Damage to Soybeans in Kentucky YEAR 2
Sustainable Production
Abiotic stressAgricultureLand Use Water supply
Lead Principal Investigator:
Matthew Springer, University of Kentucky
Co-Principal Investigators:
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Brief Project Summary:

Wildlife are believed to cause significant losses to yields for grain farmers within the state of Kentucky. Currently, only research from last season has attempted to quantify yield losses directly attributed to white-tailed deer within Kentucky. Previous research on deer damage to grain crops in other regions of the United States have found contradicting results, with some research showing significantly decreased yields while others show little to no effect on yields. Within Kentucky, over the last several decades deer populations have drastically increased in many areas. Increasing deer densities have impacts on several ecosystems; however, no previous agricultural damage studies have...

Unique Keywords:
#environmental stress
Information And Results
Project Deliverables

Objective 1: Estimate the impact white-tailed deer are having on corn and soybean yields within Kentucky.
During year 1 we harvested 156 soybean plots on 2 farms within Western Kentucky. Preliminary results show that deer reduced double crop soybean yields by 8 bu/ac. Full season soybeans were not significantly impacted; however the results show a potential impact (P=0.08) from deer with more data necessary to fully understand if deer are impacting yields. The favorable growing conditions for 2017, particularly in the full season soybeans, most likely help to limit deer damage as the plants were able to compensate for any loss of vegetative matter caused by deer during the year. Determining the impact of deer during years that do not have such favorable conditions is necessary to understand the true impact deer may have on producers over each growing season. With this in mind, we need to collect data from another growing season to estimate yield losses. Understanding the impact deer are having will allow KDFWR to adjust their deer damage and deer harvest strategies appropriately to respond to concerns from corn and soybean producers within Kentucky.
Objective 2: Determine if yield loss is correlated with deer population density. To accomplish a density estimation, we will compare the effectiveness of two different deer density estimation techniques, a user-friendly method against a robust quantitatively demanding method.
Determining the accuracy of a camera-style census method within Kentucky’s agricultural landscape provides multiple applications relevant to producers. If yield losses are correlated with deer densities, we will be able to provide a tool for producers to estimate deer populations on their farms. Distribution and education of this tool will occur via an extension publication and applicable data sheets as well as through field day programs.
Objective 3: Determine if a drastic reduction in deer density impacts respective crop yields the following year as an assessment of the current deer damage tag program used by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as a means to offset deer damage.
This will be the first time this program has been experimentally tested in the nation. It is a common practice for wildlife management agencies to issue damage tags but results related to decreased wildlife damage is unknown. It is assumed that a drastic reduction in deer populations will result in a decrease in damage the following year. However, if results from this research do not support this assumption then wildlife management agencies within Kentucky and many other areas of the United States will have to reevaluate their protocols for dealing with wildlife damage complaints.

Final Project Results

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.