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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #409481

Research Project: Management and Restoration of Rangeland Ecosystems

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Hedge betting seed mixes: reducing the risk of failure

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

Submitted to: Society for Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2023
Publication Date: 1/30/2024
Citation: Harmon, D.N., Clements, D.D. 2024. Hedge betting seed mixes: reducing the risk of failure. Society for Range Management. 77:240.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: With significant increases in Great Basin rangeland habitat loss over the past few decades, successful restoration seeding efforts are of critical importance. Recent estimates indicate more than an 8-fold increase in annual grass dominated habitats, about 1/5th (19 million acres) of the Great Basin. Restoring a significant portion of the overwhelming area of loss through seeding efforts can seem improbable at times. However, it is vital to restore habitats for wildlife and livestock where natural resources are severely lacking. One of the greatest challenges to seeding success is variable annual weather along with weed competition, especially cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) competition which limits soil resources. The unpredictable annual weather, weed competition and limited soil resources make species selection in a seed mix fundamentally important. We hypothesized that a combination seed mix of native and introduced grasses will establish most consistently, by having both components compared to a seed mix of only introduced or only native grasses. We term the combination seed mix a hedge betting seed mix, with the theory that in favorable years desirable native grasses establish and in less favorable conditions introduced grasses establish. Hedge betting is a strategy where one bets on both sides of a wager to reduce the risk of loss (failure). Our results found that in years where either the introduced or native only seed mix failed to establish, yet only one of those seed mixes did establish, that the hedge betting mix regularly established in the introduced/native seed mix. Therefore, hedge betting lead to a greater success rate over multiple seeding trials (establishment of 12 seeding trials: Introduced 75%, Native 50%, Hedge betting mix 92%) . Overall, we did not observe a consistent significant negative effect on native grass establishment by including introduced grasses in the hedge betting seed mixes.