Location: Great Basin Rangelands ResearchTitle: The use of native and introduced seed mixes in rangeland rehabilitation
Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/22/2019
Publication Date: 11/5/2019
Citation: Clements, D.D., Harmon, D.N. 2019. The use of native and introduced seed mixes in rangeland rehabilitation. The Progressive Rancher. 19(8):28-29.
Technical Abstract: Annually, rangeland rehabilitation efforts are conducted on rangelands following wildfires as well as on degraded rangelands that are in dire need of improvement to restore ecosystem function and decrease the dominance of invasive and exotic weeds such as cheatgrass. In an attempt to conduct rehabilitation efforts, a growing disagreement exists concerning using primarily native species or should introduced species be primarily used to achieve success. The best know method at suppressing cheatgrass is through the establishment of perennial grasses, such as bluebunch wheatgrass and crested wheatgrass. Traditionally, introduced species such as crested wheatgrass was widely used to increase success of rehabilitating degraded rangelands due to researchers and land managers experience and recommendations of achieving higher success with introduced species compared with their experience with native plant species, such as bluebunch wheatgrass. Over the years, more effective tools and improved plant materials have become available. Here, we report on our experience using native, introduced and native/introduced seed mixes to rehabilitate Great Basin rangelands. Over a two-year period on two separate sites in northern Nevada, native seed mixes performed quite well, in fact the native seed mix out performed the other seed mixes at one of the study sites in 2016 treated plots where the site received 19.8” of annual precipitation on a 10-12” precipitation zone. The native seed mix average 4.3/ft² compared to the Introduced, 4/ft² and native introduced, 2.3/ft² during exceptionally wet year, while during the average precipitation year of 7.9” the introduced and native/introduced mixes averaged 2.6/ft² compared to 1.3/ft² for the native seed mix. The successful seeding of perennial grasses significantly reduces cheatgrass densities and associated fuels which reduce the chance, rate, spread and season of wildfires which in turn improves sustainability of grazing resources, improves wildlife habitat values and reduces the threat to adjacent critical habitats.