To Plant or Not to Plant, That is the Question (When converting non-native cool season grass fields)

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by BenAllgood, Jan 5, 2022.

  1. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Well-Known Member

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    From the Abstract: "Revegetation following Seedbank produced a plant community that provided habitat for many wildlife species equal to or better than Planted and was 3.7 times less expensive than Planted. © 2021 The Wildlife Society."
    https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.1232
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    WILDLIFE.ONLINELIBRARY.WILEY.COM
    TWS Journals
    ABSTRACT
    Restoration of early successional plant communities dominated by nonnative plant species is a central focus of many state and federal agencies to improve habitat for wildlife associated with these communities. Restoration efforts largely have concentrated on controlling nonnative species followed by planting native grasses and forbs. However, there are numerous establishment problems associated with planting that warrant evaluation of alternative approaches for restoration. We conducted a field experiment to compare vegetation composition and structure as related to habitat for focal wildlife among plant communities established by planting (Planted) native grasses and forbs and revegetation from the seedbank (Seedbank) without planting following control of tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus) at 15 replicated sites in Tennessee and Alabama, USA. Planted and Seedbank treatments produced similar plant communities. Vegetation structure providing cover for nesting and brooding northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was similar between Seedbank and Planted treatments except native grass cover was greatest in Planted, and we recorded greater openness at ground level in Seedbank than Planted or tall fescue control (Control). Abundance of northern bobwhite food plants and selected white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) forage were similar between Planted and Seedbank treatments, but nutritional carrying capacity for deer was greatest in Seedbank. Despite similarities in food abundance, and even though all forbs included in the planting mixtures were food plants, the majority of food plants in Planted were from the seedbank. The compositional and structural characteristics deemed most influential in previous studies to selection of breeding sites by dickcissel (Spiza americana), field sparrow (Spizella pusilla), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), and northern bobwhite were similar in Planted and Seedbank. Tall fescue Control was most similar to characteristics of eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) breeding sites. Revegetation following Seedbank produced a plant community that provided habitat for many wildlife species equal to or better than Planted and was 3.7 times less expensive than Planted. © 2021 The Wildlife Society.
     
  2. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    The problem with some seedbank fields is that there are no native species of grasses and forbs that provide enough height for whitetail deer to use for cover. I'm all for sparrows and meadowlarks, but I'm focused primarily on deer, and I want my fields to be tall and thick. Actually, the best grasses in my fields were planted, but some (although not all) of the best forbs came out of the seedbank. So, I guess that is having the best of both worlds.

    I see deer stand and eat in the fields, sometimes for hours. This happens all season of the year. Cover and food together are a definite plus. However, one of the most overlooked pieces of the habitat puzzle is managing fence rows and ditches. Something is going to grow in these places, and it's worth the effort to turn it into something useful. These areas are the perfect places for briers, honeysuckle, useful shrubs, native persimmon trees, vines, and various other species that whitetails love. But, if you don't manage them, you will likely end up with sycamores, sweet gums, cottonwoods, and a host of other useless species.

    Thanks for sharing Ben!
     
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  3. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Well-Known Member

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    That's the truth. Man, if broomsedge was taller, I'd be set. ;) That new 6.5 acre tract is covered with it.
     
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  4. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    That's typical of Adair County. Lime would make a big difference in the amount of broomsedge. Actually, some broomsedge mixed in with taller grasses isn't a bad thing. It will help support taler grasses in the winter.

    PS: The only native grass that I try to kill is deer tongue grass. It grows about 3 feet tall, forms a monoculture and flattens quickly in the fall. Usually, you will see a big spot of it forming and can spray it with gly. That keeps it in check.
     
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  5. T-Max

    T-Max Well-Known Member

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    Sycamores?! Useless? :eek: That is the preferred turkey roost tree around here. Haha! I know I know... Turkeys aren't deer... ;)
     
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  6. gut_pile

    gut_pile Active Member

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    Nope...they are better
     
  7. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Well-Known Member

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    Dr. Harper was kind of enough to make this publication available on his website if anyone cares to go in depth with the reading. I've attached it here.
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. T-Max

    T-Max Well-Known Member

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    Someday I am going to renovate a couple old brome fields. I will keep this in mind.
     
  9. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Here is another thing to consider in this discussion - some of the seed you buy from a first class vendor could very well have superior genetics compared to what can come out of a seed-bank.

    The best example I can think of is partridge pea. The native partridge pea in my area never gets even to knee high. It lacks enough aggressiveness to compete with other plants. Usually I will see just a few of these plants at the edge of a road or field edge. However, the variety of PP that I got from Roundstone Native Seeds grows 7 feet high and is one of the dominant annuals in the prairie. For my management strategy, this is highly desirable. No disking or anything else is required for it to come back year after year. Plus, it provides excellent food and cover.

    Another example is little bluestem. Lots of little bluestem will not get much over knee high, but what we drilled in from Roundstone gets well over 5 feet and close to 6 feet in some places.

    The moral of this story is that there is such a thing as superior genetics in the plant kingdom, but you rarely hear this mentioned for NWSGs.
     
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  10. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    My overgrown fencerows in Iowa before I fixed them were 98% cedar and autumn olive.

    G
     
  11. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    I remember that G, and also remember you declaring war on them (and winning the war).

    I actually like a few cedars at the right places where screening is needed, but don't want them anywhere else. Big ones also make a nice place for turkey dusting sites. But I definitely don't want any autumn olive because of how invasive it can become.
     
  12. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    My father often told me; You may have won the battle but you won't win the war. While I'm not quite with the father and son relationship war analogy, autumn olives are a war. The war was still raging when I tucked tail and ran. Some of my favorite trees were cedars despite the many that I killed. Same is true for honeylocust. Here in Kentucky I have found one autumn olive up on the hill next to the old dope patch, I won that battle.

    G
     
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  13. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    I had good results out in my tillable in Iowa killing fescue NR and SD. Milkweed and tickseed prevalent in the SD. Sweet clover in both.

    G
     
  14. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    I've had good luck with reclaiming sections for browse type plants from the seed bank. Since my deer would prefer to bed on the high ridges, there is no need to try for bedding in my lower fields.
    My plans usually involve processing browse in these fields that are adjacent/travel routes in relation to my planted plots. Growing from the seed bank is a slow process and one must be patient. Two issues that most have is the prevalence of years of fescue and invasion of cedars. Both require persistent and aggressive action.
    I usually with the cedars just break them over in the winter with the tractor or chainsaw to increase small game hiding places. The cedars often live laying on the ground, or will die depending on time of year pushed over.
    As for the fescue I usually bring in a priest to perform exorcism rites as it can be more persistant than the Devil in his temptation .
    I will say of all my habitat improvements, I enjoy the results of the native grasses, flowers, and browse of my fallow/native seed fields the most.
     
  15. George

    George Well-Known Member

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    I do miss that here in the Kentucky hills however the more trees that I cut up top, the more flowers I grow. I do grow nice flowers down in the crack. Jap stilt grass is my main grass grown up top. Perhaps some girl scout cookies next year?

    G
     
  16. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    If you run out of fescue, I can help. I might just bring some over without you knowing.
     
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  17. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    Well, you’re just Santa’s little helper ain’tcha ?:eek:
     
  18. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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  19. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Steve for such a nice person I am quite sure you will be questioned hard at the Gate before allowing your admittance!!
    On a walk with God one day with me, he said , “ Doug, (since he calls me by my first name) ,even I despise trying to plant into old fescue field , and you must be one patient human being. Your reward will be great! “. Just sayin.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  20. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Seriously Transition can be done in fescue/fallow fields if one is patient enough.
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    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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