The rehabilitation of degraded big sagebrush communities infested with cheatgrass and other competitive weeds is a daunting task facing resource managers and land owners. In an effort to improve wildlife and livestock forage on degraded rangelands, the USDA-ARS-Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit in cooperation with private land owners, State and Federal agencies tested weed control practices, seeding methodologies and plant material testing of desirable species to improve degraded habitats. The site is located in northern Nevada, 70 km (43 miles) west of Orovada, Nevada. The site is near agronomic fields therefor weed control was conducted by discing the site in the spring of the year prior to cheatgrass seed maturity. The site was fallowed through the summer and seeded in the fall of the year (October) to various native and introduced species and seed mixes. Seed species used included 26 separate species (8 native grasses, 7 introduced grasses, 3 native shrubs, 2 introduced shrubs, 6 native forbs). Initial seedling emergence revealed that native shrubs and forbs were very unsuccessful, 0-30/mÂ² (0-3.3/ftÂ²). Native perennial grass species did not perform much better, with â€˜Secar' bluebunch wheatgrass, 37.8/mÂ² (4.2/ftÂ²) and Bottlebrush squirreltail, 32.4/mÂ² (3.6/ftÂ²), respectfully. The seeded species that experienced the best initial seedling emergence were the introduced perennial grasses â€˜Ephraims' crested wheatgrass, 78.3/mÂ² (8.7/ftÂ²) and Siberian wheatgrass, 87.3/mÂ² (9.7/ftÂ²). By September 2012 the establishment of seeded species was greatly reduced from the initial emergence numbers. Introduced perennial grasses, â€˜Ephraims' crested wheatgrass, 0.90/mÂ² (0.10/ftÂ²), and Siberian wheatgrass 6.3/mÂ² (0.70/ftÂ²) and the introduced shrub â€˜Immigrant' forage kochia, 4.3/mÂ² (0.48/ftÂ²) performed the best. Properly selecting those seed species and seed mixes with the inherent potential to germinate, emerge and establish in arid environments can improve rangeland rehabilitation efforts.
CONSERVATION SEEDING AND DIVERSE SEED SPECIES PERFORMANCE
Society for Range Management
SRM Sacramento, CA