Like many planted grasslands in the northcentral region, our property lacks vegetative diversity. The lack of diversity reduces the resiliency of our grasslands, which we intend to use to start a small-scale farm. The lack of diversity, limit their ability to sustain the wide array of ecological services robust grasslands can provide, by reducing pollinator floristic resources, reduced forage production during limited or untimely rain events, and homogeneous cover often unsuitable for many local wildlife populations including those critical to our local economy (ie. ring-necked pheasant). The purpose of this study is three-fold; first, I will evaluate methods available to restore grassland cover to determine which is most effective at increasing diversity at the most reasonable cost, second, we will use these plantings to educate students from local schools and producers about pollinators and best practices to improve diversity in our planted grasslands, and third, these established grasslands will be incorporated into a new grazing pasture and will be managed using sheep and fire in future years (long-term vision). This research will guide the restoration of additional grasslands on our property, but also provide useful information for others interested in improving the resiliency of their grasslands through diversity.
Project objectives from proposal:
- 1. Evaluate methods to increase diversity in grassland restorations.
Treatments (3 replicates each):
- Complete restoration (2-3 chemical application (glyphosate), disking, fall or spring reseeding)
- Chemical application-disk-spring reseed
- Chemical application, seed cover crop, chemical application, spring reseeding
- Control – grasslands as they are now, but not hayed during the course of the project
- 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.