beneficial broadleaf plants for hayfield

Asked February 25, 2019, 3:15 PM EST

My organization maintains hay fields in southeast Michigan that are also habitat for grassland birds. We adjust our mowing and management plans to allow meadowlarks, bobolinks, and other grassland birds to nest and raise their young. We recently had to use broadleaf herbicide to remove an infestation of crown vetch. The grasses have responded nicely after the vetch removal, but we'd like to increase the plant diversity in the fields. Can you suggest native broadleaf plants that might do ok in hay fields, and would not be detrimental to the value of the hay? We know we could use alfalfa, but we'd like to use native plants for a better match with native insects and other fauna. We'd also not be tilling and planting, just making small plantings or scattering seed. I guess our general goal is to push the fields towards native grassland/prairie, while still maintaining as much value for the hay as we can. This may not be very practical, but we'd like to do what we can. Thanks!

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response


You have a complex set of criteria for your question and I think it will be difficult to do all the things you want.

I would suggest you try to prioritize your needs and then we could have either a phone conversation or a video conference call to provide a little clarity for me.

Please contact me at and we can set something up.

Thank you,

Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension