Evaluating the potential for micronutrient soil amendments to improve rangeland sustainability.

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,972.00
Projected End Date: 12/01/2025
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Lisa Rew
Montana State University
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jane Mangold
Montana State University


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. annual), grass (misc. perennial)
  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management
  • Crop Production: nutrient management, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: dryland farming
  • Soil Management: soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    Cheatgrass/downy brome
    ) and ventenata
    Ventenata dubia) are a large concern for
    producers in rangelands across the West. These species can reduce
    perennial forage grasses, negatively
    impacting ecosystem services and the
    sustainability of cattle operations. Managing these
    is difficult, and many producers
    are interested in new
    viable weed management tools. One
    potential is the micronutrient soil amendment
    designed to improve soil health and perennial forage. A potential
    side effect is the reduction in several weedy species, including
    cheatgrass and
    ventenata. However, damage to mature
    perennial grasses has been reported. Our goals are to improve our
    understanding of this soil amendment through its impacts on seed
    germination and establishment of native and non-native species,
    its impacts on
    forage quality and soil health. We will address these goals
    through four studies. In a
    controlled environment
    we will assess the
    of Nutrafix
    on 1) germination
    and 2) seedling emergence of three native and two non-native
    grasses; and 3) on biomass and forage quality of mature native
    es. Our field study 4) will
    assess forage and soil quality
    in previously established plots
    assessing the impact
    of Nutrafix
    management. We will share the outcomes of this research with
    producers through extension publications, peer reviewed
    publications, and
    scientific presentations.
    The findings from these studies will allow producers to make more
    informed decisions when considering
    using Nutrafix
    to improve their
    soil health and their native perennial forage
    quality, both of which can help improve the
    sustainability of their land.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The research goals of this project are
    to improve our understanding of how
     soil amendment
    Nutrafix impacts seed germination and establishment of native and
    non-native grasses, as well as how it impacts forage quality of
    mature forage grasses. To achieve our goals we have four

    Objective 1:
    Determine the impact of different rates of
     on seed
    germination and dormancy of three native species (bluebunch
    ), Idaho fescue
    ), and western
    wheatgrass (
    )), and two
    non-native species (cheatgrass
    and ventenata) in non-soil media, in a growth chamber.
    (Fall 2024)

    Objective 2:
    Determine the impact of different rates of Nutrafix

    on seedling establishment of the same
    five native and non-native species in soil media, in a
    greenhouse. (Fall 2024)

    Objective 3:
    Determine the impact of the recommended rate of
     on mature native
    plant species biomass and forage quality in soil media, in a
    greenhouse. (Winter 2024/2025)  

    Objective 4:
    Determine the impact of Nutrafix
     on a) forage
    quality of the native species and b) soil nutrient availability,
    four years post application in a field setting. (Summer


    The educational goals of this project
    are to further educate Montana producers and managers about the
    specific impacts of Nutrafix
    native and non-native species germination and emergence, as well
    as its impacts on the quality of native forage species and soil
    nutrient availability. To assess these goals we have one
    objective, with three

    Objective 5: Share
    our results about the impact of Nutrafix

    on native and non-native grass
    germination and establishment, as well as native forage and soil

    a) Supply condensed
    highlights of these results to producers and managers through
    extension fact sheets and online resources. (Winter-Fall

    b) Present our
    results to producers and managers through local scientific
    meetings and field days. (Spring-Summer 2025)

    c) Publish these
    results through peer-reviewed publications in research journals.
    (Fall 2025) 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.