Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309902

Title: Conservation seeding and diverse seed species performance

item Clements, Darin - Charlie
item Harmon, Daniel - Dan

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2015
Publication Date: 1/31/2015
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.N. 2015. Conservation seeding and diverse seed species performance. In: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts, January 31-February 6, 2015, Sacramento, CA. 68:59.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The rehabilitation of degraded big sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities infested with cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and other competitive weeds is a daunting task facing resource managers and land owners. In an effort to improve wildlife and livestock forage on degraded rangelands, the USDA-ARS-Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit in cooperation with private land owners, State and Federal agencies tested weed control practices, seeding methodologies and plant material testing of desirable species to improve degraded habitats. The research site is located in northern Nevada, 70 km (43 miles) west of Orovada, Nevada. The site is near agronomic fields therefor mechanical weed control was conducted by discing the site in the spring of the year prior to cheatgrass seed maturity. The site was fallowed through the summer and seeded in the fall of the year (October 2010) to various native and introduced species and seed mixes. Seed species used included 26 separate species (8 native grasses, 7 introduced grasses, 3 native shrubs, 2 introduced shrubs, 6 native forbs). Initial seedling emergence revealed that native shrubs and forbs were largely unsuccessful as the vast majority of them recorded very low emergence, 0-30/m² (0-3.3/ft²). Native perennial grass species did not perform much better as ‘Secar’ bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), 37.8/m² (4.2/ft²) and Bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), 32.4/m² (3.6/ft²), respectfully, recorded the highest emergence. The seeded species that experienced the best initial seedling emergence were the introduced perennial grasses Siberian wheatgrass (Agropyron fragile ssp. sibericum), 87.3/m² (9.7/ft²) and ‘Ephraims’ crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), 78.3/m² (8.7/ft²). By September 2012 the establishment of seeded species was greatly reduced from the initial emergence numbers. The site received 26.6 cm (10.5”) of precipitation during the 2010/2011 season (October 1 thru September 30), but only 10.6 cm (4.2”) in 2011/2012 which contributed to poor seedling establishment. Introduced perennial grasses, ‘Ephraims’ crested wheatgrass, 0.90/m² (0.10/ft²), and Siberian wheatgrass 6.3/m² (0.70/ft²) and the introduced shrub ‘Immigrant’ forage kochia (Bassia prostrata), 4.3/m² (0.48/ft²) performed the best, which did not meet our goal of 9/m² (1/ft²). Properly selecting those seed species and seed mixes with the inherent potential to germinate, emerge and establish in arid environments can improve rangeland rehabilitation efforts and decrease cheatgrass densities and associated fuel loads.