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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Natural Resource Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #301379

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Natural Resource Management Research

Title: Growing Spartina pectinata in previously farmed prairie wetlands for economic and ecological benefits

item Zilverberg, Cody
item Johnson, W
item Boe, Arvid
item Owens, Vance
item Archer, David
item Novotny, Craig
item Volke, Malia
item Werner, Brett

Submitted to: Wetlands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/14/2014
Publication Date: 6/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Zilverberg, C.J., Johnson, W.C., Boe, A., Owens, V., Archer, D.W., Novotny, C., Volke, M., Werner, B. 2014. Growing Spartina pectinata in previously farmed prairie wetlands for economic and ecological benefits. Wetlands. DOI: 10.1007/s13157-014-0548-8.

Interpretive Summary: While wetlands provide many wildlife and environmental benefits, wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. continue to be drained and converted to cropland. Profitable methods for restoring and producing income from wetlands could help recover lost ecosystem services. Prairie cordgrass is a native plant that is often dominant in wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region and has commercial value as seed and hay. An experiment was conducted to compare establishment of two types of prairie cordgrass using different planting methods and at different positions within a wetland landscape in east-central South Dakota. Results showed that transplanting plants worked best in the wetland center, but either transplanting or direct drilling were effective above the wetland center. Results also showed that prairie cordgrass could provide positive net revenue for a farmer. The results of this research are important to farmers and those interested in wetland restoration as it showed methods for successfully restoring wetlands and producing income from the wetlands that were restored.

Technical Abstract: Wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S. are threatened by continued drainage and conversion to cropland. Commercial incentives may increase wetland restoration in lieu of easements. Therefore, we designed an experiment to compare two populations of Spartina pectinata, compare two planting techniques, and identify the zones of maximum plant vigor and biomass production along a wetland-upland environmental gradient of a restored temporary wetland in east-central South Dakota. In the wetland center (maximum water depth > 0.4 m) plants were effectively established by transplanting, but not by drilling. Both techniques were effective above the wetland center. The zone of maximum vigor varied by year, ranging from the wetland bottom (0.5 m maximum water depth) to 0.25 m above the wetland-upland boundary. The Prairie Farm population was taller than the Red River population (~1.2 vs. 0.9 m) and height varied little by year. In contrast, inflorescence density varied greatly by year. Biomass yield did not differ between populations but was affected by elevation. Because prairie cordgrass can be established using conventional techniques and provide positive net revenue for a farmer, it should be considered for incorporation into production fields, especially on small farms with numerous shallow wetlands.