- Animal Production: range improvement
- Crop Production: cover crops, pollinator habitat
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
The primary goal of this project was to increase the resiliency of our grasslands to better provide ecological services to ourselves and society. We are working to achieve this goal through increasing diversity within our grasslands by evaluating a variety of restoration techniques. We developed two separate seed mixes with pollinators, wildlife, and livestock production in mind. One mix consisted of all native plants while the second was a combination of both non-native and native plants. Seed mixes were sown in spring following: 1) A single chemical application in May (2019), 2) Complete restoration including 2-3 chemical applications in 2019, a single chemical application in spring 2020, and spring seed either with oat nurse crop or without, and 3) Chemical application (2019), spring seeded cover crop (2019), and chemical application (2020). Grassland restoration takes time and it is difficult to determine with certainty which seed mix planted under which management regime will produce the most resilient grassland. Regardless, both seed mixes have resulted in grasslands with greater species richness and floral resources available to pollinators. In fact, our grasslands provided habitat for a number of different butterfly species from June through September. While our grasslands appear to be trending in the right direction with respect to establishment, we have learned a couple things that we will put into use during future grassland restorations at our place. First, cover crops have ecological benefits, however, if allowed to mature and set seed, the seed can germinate the following year resulting in a potential increase in competition for desired seedlings. Next, although an added expense, additional applications of glyphosate prior to seeding is likely worth it. Finally, if providing a diverse suite of flowers for pollinators is a goal, including different species of forbs in the seed mix may be warranted as some species are yet to establish, but because we included many different forbs, our grasslands still contained a high number of different flowering plants. The information gained from this project will be used in future grassland restorations at our place beginning in 2021 as well as provide insights for others involved or considering grassland restorations.
- Evaluate methods to increase diversity in grassland restorations.
- One chemical application in May, spring seed.
- Complete restoration (2-3 chemical application (glyphosate), and spring seed either with oat nurse crop or without
- Chemical application, seed cover crop, chemical application, spring seed
- Evaluate early establishment of plants sown under the above methods and consisting of two different seed mixtures (native vs native/non-native).
- Use research plots and adjacent lands to educate kids and producers about grasslands, our project, and the importance of plant diversity.