Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Tank Tracking on Range Grasses

Authors
item Palazzo, Antonio - US ARMY CORPS OF ENG
item Jensen, Kevin
item Waldron, Blair
item Cary, Timothy - US ARMY CORPS OF ENG

Submitted to: Terramechanics Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 4, 2004
Publication Date: March 4, 2005
Citation: Palazzo, A.J., Jensen, K.B., Waldron, B.L., Cary, T.J. 2005. Effects of tank tracking on range grasses. Terramechanics Journal.

Interpretive Summary: As the intensity of military training increased, there was a decrease in the desired plant materials on the site and an increase in the amount of bare ground. Introduced grass species established better at the Yakima Training Center, Yakima, WA, than did the native grasses. Mean establishment and persistent rankings after five years at Site A were Siberian wheatgrass>intermediate wheatgrass>crested wheatgrass>bluegrasses>Russian wildrye>western wheatgrass>basin wildrye>Indian ricegrass>bottlebrush. Mean establishment and persistent rankings at Site B were Snake River wheatgrass>bluebunch wheatgrass>thickspike wheatgrass. There was a strong correlation between plant establishment and persistence (stand) and the plants ability to recover after training. Among the natives, Snake River wheatgrass and western wheatgrass were the most resilient across the different tracking intensities. The presence of rhizomes in western wheatgrass appeared to increase its ability to recover after tracking. Sandberg bluegrass successfully invaded both the native and introduced sites after tracking.

Technical Abstract: The Department of Defense (DoD) must constantly balance its military mission and its commitment to stewartship on large tracks of federal land. These military training lands are some of the most intensely used land in the United States and training requires that vegetation, primarily grasses, be as resilient as possible. The objectives of this study were to evaluate (i) plant establishment and (ii) the effect of light to heavy training activity that ranged from zero to four passes on range grasses at the Yakima Training Center, Yakima, WA. Characters measured include percent ground cover and forage yield of the target species, percent bluegrass, bare ground, and cheatgrass encroachment. Mean establishment and persistent rankings after five years at Site A were Siberian wheatgrass>intermediate wheatgrass>crested wheatgrass> bluegrasses>Russian wildrye>western wheatgrass>basin wildrye>Indian ricegrass>bottlebrush. Mean establishment and persistent rankings at Site B were Snake River wheatgrass>bluebunch wheatgrass> thickspike wheatgrass. There was a strong correlation between plant persistence (stand) and ability to recover after training. The largest decline in percent target species was observed between the two and four-pass treatments. After five years, cheatgrass was not able to encroach Snake River wheatgrass, Siberian wheatgrass, and bluebunch wheatgrass plots. Tracking generally reduced the stand of the target species, increased the amount of bare ground, and enhanced the ability of cheatgrass to invade.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page