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Title: Improving rangeland seeding success in post-fire water repellent soil using surfactant seed coating technology

item Madsen, Matthew
item ZVIRZDIN, DANIEL - Brigham Young University

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2012
Publication Date: 2/25/2013
Citation: Madsen, M.D., Zvirzdin, D.L. 2013. Improving rangeland seeding success in post-fire water repellent soil using surfactant seed coating technology [abstract]. 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management, February 3-7, 2013, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paper No. 319.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Severe disturbance from catastrophic wildfires often requires that native plant materials be reintroduced through reseeding, but the success rate of these restoration efforts in arid environments is notoriously low. Post-fire soil water repellency can limit reseeding success by decreasing soil moisture for seed germination and establishment. Surfactant seed coating (SSC) technology may help to overcome this limitation. Laboratory testing has shown that by coating seeds with soil surfactant, water repellency within the seed's microsite can be ameliorated, which increases root-zone water reserves and enhances seedling emergence and plant survival. The objective of this research was to evaluate the influence of SSC technology on plant establishment within recently burned pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus) woodlands. The study design consisted of a randomized complete-block design with two treatments (seeds left uncoated or coated with SSC) applied to two bunchgrass species. We implemented the treatments in 2010 and 2011 at two separate wildfire locations. At the 2010 site, plant establishment from SSC was between 2.0-4.2 fold higher than the uncoated seed two years after planting. Plantings in 2011 had 7.5-fold more seedlings emerge in the SSC treatment, for one of the two species sown the first year after treatment; however, due to severe drought conditions the majority of emerged seedlings desiccated during the first year, resulting in poor plant establishment for all treatments (i.e. less than 1-plant'm-2). These preliminary results demonstrate the ability of SSC technology to improve reseeding success, but additional research is needed to further improve the efficacy of SSC technology on drought years.