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Enhancing CRP With Native Species: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

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Presentation on theme: "Enhancing CRP With Native Species: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES"— Presentation transcript:

1 Enhancing CRP With Native Species: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
Good Morning. Today I’m going to be talking about some of the accumulated experiences and lessons learned from our work at BFI Native Seeds restoring native plants in Eastern Washington. Most of what I’ll be discussing relates to restoration of fields formerly in agricultural production, that have been planted to introduced perennial grasses either through CRP or the Soil Bank program. KURT MERG WDFW for MEL ASHER and JERRY BENSON BFI Native Seeds, Moses Lake, Washington

2 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
Goals: Protect Soil Protect Water Provide Habitat for Wildlife Coequal objectives of CRP, setup for the fact that Wildlife Habitat has been underserved

3 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
At least partly because of CRP, we see less of this on the Palouse than we once did.

4 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
Thanks in part to CRP, we see far fewer days per year of such water turbidity at Palouse Falls

5 Conservation Reserve Program(CRP)
Wildlife Value has lagged Soil & Water Value Little variety Low value to wildlife Smooth brome monoculture gives little value

6 Diversity: Key to Wildlife Value
Structure and Species Long-lasting Diversity Native species

7 Diversification Improve habitat for wildlife
Sage-grouse broods use areas rich in forbs (Drut et al. 1994; Apa 1998) Forbs contributed 20 to 50% to the diet of pre-laying sage-grouse hens (Barnett and Crawford 1994) Sharp-tailed grouse use areas that contain a high diversity of forbs and bunchgrasses (Hart et al. 1950, Klott and Lindzey 1989, Meints 1991) And while Crested wheatgrass or other introduced grass monocultures have some habitat value, there is an increasing amount of evidence that suggests that native forbs and high plant diversity, provide optimal habitat. These are just a few of the studies that support this idea.

8 Background Methods developed by WDFW/BLM/BFI “trial and error” converting CRP plantings to native species CRP was typically crested wheatgrass or other introduced grasses, and invasive annuals Approach requires multiple steps and a combination of chemical and mechanical controls Currently in use to convert approx 40,000 acres of CRP in WA for SAFE So just as a little background, today I’m going to be covering a process for restoring native plants to former CRP fields, this particular process was developed collaboratively by folks from the BLM, WDFW, and Jerry Benson from BFI. As I mentioned earlier these CRP fields were typically planted to crested wheatgrass. In some cases, crested wheatgrass occupied the field and formed a near monoculture, in other cases, crested wheatgrass co-dominated the field with weedy annuals such as cheatgrass and annual mustards. The process that we’ve developed requires multiple steps, a combination of chemical and mechanical techniques, and most importantly, an adaptive management approach. This particular technique is currently being used to convert approx 40,000 acres of CRP in WA for SAFE.

9 For Reference Benson, J., R.T. Tveten, M. G. Asher and P.W. Dunwiddie Shrub-Steppe and Grassland Restoration Manual for the Columbia River Basin

10 Methods Site Preparation – Adaptive Process used to accomplish the following goals: Control of existing vegetation Depletion of weed seed bank Preparation of seed bed for planting In contrast to these trials, the process we use includes both mechanical and chemical treatments, including a significantly higher rate of glyphosate. I’m going to detail this process step by step, from site preparation, to planting, to post-planting weed control. I’ll discuss some potential stumbling blocks and lessons learned from our experiences. So the first stage in any restoration project is site preparation. We typically have three goals for this stage.

11 Mowing Timing – Summer following seed shatter Rotary Blade Mower
Timing is late summer or early fall, after plants are dormant, and the goal is two-fold: reduce the standing dead to provide better herbicide contact, and to place all seed on the ground. Try to mow as low as possible. Rotary Blade Mower

12 Harrowing Light tillage with a heavy spring-tine harrow Timing - Fall
Then later on in the same year, typically fall, the field is harrowed with a heavy-duty spring-tine harrow. The goal of this treatment is light tillage, which incorporates weed seed into the soil and stimulates germination. This is a close-up of what the soil looks like after harrowing; we’ve achieved tillage in the top 2 or 3 inches, while still leaving crowns in place to help protect against erosion.

13 Chemical Fallow Mid-Spring Heavy Glyphosate (6-8 inches tall)
3.3 kg a.i. / ha Glyphosate (3 qt/ac Round-Up Pro) with AMS and NIS Chemical treatments begin the following year with a field-wide glyphosate application at 3 qts/ac. This might seem high, but we’ve found that lower rates result in much lower crested control.

14 Deep Tillage Some CRP species and dense crested wheatgrass may require tillage for better control Breaks up sod, exposes rhizomes Sweep-chisel or moldboard plow One week following heavy mid-spring herbicide application Tillage is typically following by harrowing

15 Chemical Fallow Summer
1.1 kg a.i. / ha Glyphosate (1 qt/ac Round-Up Pro) kg a.i. / ha Dicamba (2-3 oz/ac) with AMS and NIS

16 Ready to Plant… Fall Glyphosate
0.5 kg a.i. ha / kg (1 pt/ac Round-Up Pro) with AMS and NIS

17 Seeding Dormant seeding with TruAx Flex II
Seeding depth ranges from ¼ - ½ inches Depending on fall conditions, another flush of cheatgrass can emerge shortly before or after planting. It is critical to control this flush, as fall-germinated cheatgrass seedlings are the most competitive with new seedlings the next spring.

18 Grass Seed Mixes Grass Species Eco-Types Lbs / Acre
Bluebunch Wheatgrass Duffy Creek/Hawk Creek 5 Idaho Fescue Touchet/Tucannon 3 Sandberg Bluegrass Sprague 1.6 Prairie Junegrass Zumwalt 1 TOTAL 10.6 Grass Species Eco-Types Lbs/Acre Bluebunch wheatgrass Wahluke 3.6 Sandberg's bluegrass Frenchman Hills 1.6 Indian ricegrass Nezpar 1.4 Bottlebrush squirreltail Yakama 1.1 Thickspike wheatgrass Schwendimar TOTAL 9

19 Spring After Grass Planting

20 Spring After Grass Planting
Timing – Later spring – 50% of rosettes are 2-3 inches MCPA and Bromoxynil Add mild SU like Express for purple mustard control Weed control is most critical at this time of year. If the density of weeds is not limiting grass growth, we forgo a weed application, and mow during flowering to reduce weed seed production. In the scenario depicted here, in particular when purple mustard is involved, spraying is essential to free up moisture for grass seedling growth.

21 Spring After Grass Planting

22 Post-Plant Cheatgrass Control
Prior to seeded species emergence 0.25 kg a.i. / ha (8 oz/acre Round-Up Pro) + AMS and NIS Just after seeded species emergence 0.1 kg a.i. / ha (3-4 oz/acre Round-Up Pro)

23 Summer After Grass Planting
Depending spring rain, a follow-up application or mowing is often required to control weed flushes Weed control is most critical at this time of year. If the density of weeds is not limiting grass growth, we forgo a weed application, and mow during flowering to reduce weed seed production. In the scenario depicted here, in particular when purple mustard is involved, spraying is essential to free up moisture for grass seedling growth.

24 Forb Inter-seeding Forbs are drilled the fall after grass seeding

25 Forb Seed Mixes Forb Species Ecotypes Lbs/Ac Arrowleaf balsamroot
Spokane River 0.8 Silky lupine 0.4 Threadleaf fleabane Duffy Creek 0.2 Nineleaf biscuitroot Columbia Basin 0.3 Lewis’ flax Columbia Sulfur buckwheat Western Yarrow Methow 0.1 TOTAL 3 Forb Species Ecotypes Lbs/ac Big sagebrush Columbia Basin 0.2 Arrowleaf balsamroot Red Mountain 0.5 Shaggy fleabane daisy Duffy Creek Creamy buckwheat Lewis’ flax Columbia Nineleaf biscuitroot Silky lupine 0.3 Tapertip Hawksbeard TOTAL 2

26 Follow-Up Weed Control
Spot spraying Mowing

27 Three Years Post Seeding

28 Long-Term Success

29 Notes on Forb/Shrub Inter-seeding
Species readily established by seed include: Fleabane daisies Balsamroot Yarrow Silky lupine Lewis’ flax Sagebrush

30 Estimated Cost Per Acre in SAFE
TREATMENT Per Acre Cost Summer mowing $18 Fall harrowing $12 Spring Spraying (Chemical + Application) $27 Summer sweep chisel $14 Summer Spraying (Chemical + Application) $17 Year 1 Planting (Grass seed + Drill Seeding) $ Year 2 Planting (Forb/Shrub Seed + Drill Seeding) $120+ $357

31 Summary Involves a multi-year, adaptive process
Site preparation takes approx 15 months, and involves at least 4 steps Seedbed depletion is critical Staged plantings are current method

32 But, stay tuned… In some areas, especially after moist spring conditions, we have had grass establish so quickly that it complicates forb establishment and weed pressure from Ventenata makes me apprehensive about 2 year fallow there. In such cases, it may make sense to plant the grass and forbs at once. Learning never ceases.


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