• Long-term plant community development as influenced by revegetation techniques

      Newman, G. J.; Redente, E. F. (Society for Range Management, 2001-11-01)
      A revegetation techniques study was initiated during the fall of 1976 in northwestern Colorado in a disturbed sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) community. The study included 2 irrigation treatments, three seed mixtures, 2 seeding techniques, and 2 fertilization treatments. Short-term results were published and conclusions were made regarding the initial success of each treatment. The objective of the current study was to determine the effects of each treatment on plant community production, species composition, and species diversity after 20 years of plant community development. Among irrigated plots, the native seed mixture produced greater aboveground biomass compared to an introduced mixture and a mixture of both native and introduced species (combination seed mixture). The native seed mixture also resulted in greater total species richness than the introduced mixture when averaging over all other treatments. Altered seeding rate ratios among life forms as well as altered seeding methods (drill versus broadcast seeding) did not significantly alter plant community development after 20 years. However, a single application of nitrogen and phosphorus significantly increased grass production on plots seeded to the combination seed mixture. All revegetation plots have remained grass-dominated. However, shrub biomass was greater in the native and combination mixtures than in the introduced mixture under initial irrigated conditions in part due to successful establishment and growth of four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens Pursh Nutt.). Thus, the seed mixtures evaluated in this study have resulted in distinctly different plant communities and demonstrate that such initial treatments can influence long-term plant community development on severely disturbed rangelands. Broadcast seeding a native seed mixture that has been irrigated for 2 growing seasons without fertilization appears to be an effective long-term combination of cultural revegetation practices.