Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2006
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Citation: Sanderson, M.A. 2006. Tapping into the pasture seed bank. Project Grass Magazine. 4(5):24. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: The plant species found in pasture soil seed banks fall into four main categories. The first type of seed bank is short-term (usually less than one year) formed from plants that shed seed in the summer, germinate in the fall, and grow mainly in the early spring of the following year. These plants fill in gaps, holes, or bad spots in pastures that predictably occur in fall, winter, and early spring. The second type of seed bank is also short-term but the plants that contribute to this seed bank shed their seed in the fall, germinate the following spring, and make most of their growth in late spring and summer. These plants fill in pasture gaps that predictably occur in late spring and autumn. The third and fourth types of seed banks are both long-term and differ in how much of each seed germinates right away and how much remains dormant. To recruit new forages from the seed bank there must be: (i) a supply of seeds from desirable plant species in the seed bank, (ii) few or no undesirable species (weeds) in the seed bank and (iii) suitable conditions for the germination, establishment, and maintenance of the desired forage species. Producers need to manage pastures to foster the desirable species in the seed bank including maintaining optimal soil pH (6.0 to 7.0) and fertility levels (especially phosphorus for legumes) along with appropriate grazing and clipping management to control weed growth and encourage forage growth.