Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research
Title: Research to Practical Use: On-The-Ground Successes Authors
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 24, 2010
Publication Date: February 12, 2011
Citation: Clements, C.D., Young, J.A., Harmon, D.N., Weltz, M.A. 2011. Research to Practical Use: On-The-Ground Successes [abstract]. Society for Range Management. 64:64. Technical Abstract: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit services a large area that runs from southern Nevada up to the Oregon border, and from northeastern California to the Utah Border. In this vast array of landscapes are a variety of stakeholders whom all demand help concerning sustainable agricultural practices and concerns. This paper will present three examples of our efforts to research the problem on hand and to deliver practical on-the-ground practices to minimize or eliminate the problem and to improve sustainable agricultural practices. The first example will be in the area of tall whitetop (Lepidium latifolium) control and rehabilitation. We will present information on controlling tall whitetop in a former agriculture field using a variety methodology (herbicide, mechanical, biological) and then returning the site back to agriculture production. Mowing tall whitetop in mid May followed by a 2 lb/ac rate application of 2-4D in late May to early June was used for initial control efforts. This was followed up by seeding a long-lived perennial grass, tall wheatgrass (Elytrigia elongata) in the fall (October). The following spring (early June) another application of 2-4D was applied at a lower rate, ½-1 lb/ac, as to not damage the perennial grass seedlings. The combination of this approach allowed the long-lived perennial grass to suppress the vast majority of tall whitetop and only required spot control herbicide applications of tall whitetop. After 5 years of tall whitetop suppression the field was converted back to production agriculture. The second example will be on the suppression of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities. We will present information on cheatgrass suppression following wildfires as well as years after the wildfire has occurred. Herbicide and mechanical treatments to reduce cheatgrass germination and seed production was used in conjunction with a mix of native and introduced plant materials that have the inherent potential to compete with cheatgrass and therefore decrease cheatgrass fuel loads. The ability to decrease cheatgrass seed banks allowed for significant decrease in cheatgrass competition and increase in germination, sprouting and establishment of seeded species, primarily long-lived perennial grasses like crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum). The decrease in wildfire frequency associated with the decrease in cheatgrass densities allowed this site to experience succession. The site now has 5 times more native representation than the adjacent unburned islands. The third example will be in the area of shrub restoration, specifically, antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) restoration. The restoration of this critical browse species was once forgotten due to building frustrations of resource managers and the inability to successfully seed this species. In 1999, 1.6 million acres burned in Nevada alone, not a single pound of antelope bitterbrush was purchased. Through our extensive research, we have transferred technology to private and public land managers to successfully restore this critical browse species back onto western rangelands.