Location: Great Basin Rangelands ResearchTitle: Plant Material Testing: Can we learn from small plots
Submitted to: Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/17/2015
Publication Date: 2/4/2016
Citation: Harmon, D.N., Clements, D.D., Weltz, M.A., White, J. 2016. Plant Material Testing: Can we learn from small plots. Range Management Meeting Proceedings. 69:85.
Interpretive Summary: Technical abstract only for 69th Annual Society for Range Management, January 31 – February 4, 2016, Corpus Christi, TX.
Technical Abstract: Choosing appropriate plant materials for a rangeland rehabilitation project is critical for long-term success. The question is what species to seed? We find it is first necessary to define objectives and goals before debating plant material choices. For example, our objective is often to suppress cheatgrass and associated fuels. To meet this objective our goal is to establish 1 long-lived perennial grass/ft². That density may seem high but our experience has shown that density often decreases over time, so starting at a near maximum is ideal. To test the ability to achieve this goal we seeded 7 degraded xeric Wyoming big sagebrush sites in northern Nevada from 2013-2015. The plots would be considered very small as we used a hand push seeder with each species seeded separately in a 50ft row (15lb/acre rate). The advantage of small plot tests is that we can test 30+ species at once and replicate that test at numerous sites with varying soils and precipitation zones. It would be difficult to achieve such tests and require large areas if we used standard rangeland drill applications. Our small plot tests can be done by a single person and we find the results do not drastically differ from our large plot plant material tests. Results found, averaging all sites and years, less than 5 species (4.9) achieved our goal of 1 plant/ft² out of the 30-40 grass species tested. Twelve native species achieved the goal at least once for all tests ran. For example squirreltail achieved the goal 18% of the time. Siberian wheatgrass experienced the best results, 47%, and ‘Hycrest’ crested wheatgrass followed with 42%. In conclusion we find that small plot tests can provide an understanding of species potential so that resource managers can improve rehabilitation efforts in xeric Wyoming big sagebrush critical wildlife habitats.