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1 March 2012 Comparison of Postfire Soil Water Repellency Amelioration Strategies on Bluebunch Wheatgrass and Cheatgrass Survival
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Soil water repellency can limit postfire reseeding efforts and thus increase the susceptibility of a site to weed invasion. We evaluated the effectiveness of wetting agents and simulated anchor chaining for improving seedling growth and survival in water-repellent soil, for the native perennial bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and invasive annual cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Research was performed in a glasshouse, on 20-cm-diameter soil cores that were excavated from underneath burned Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) trees. The experiment was arranged as a randomized split-plot design, with the two grass species sown separately under four soil treatments: 1) no treatment (control), 2) simulated anchor chaining (hereafter referred to as “till”), 3) wetting agent, and 4) till plus wetting agent. Soil water content was highest in the wetting agent treatment, lower for till, and lowest in the control. Overall, the response of bluebunch wheatgrass and cheatgrass was similar among treatments. At the conclusion of the study, wetting agent cores had twice as many seedlings as the control, while the till and control were similar. Despite a lower number of seedlings, tilling in general resulted in the same level of biomass as the wetting agent treatment. Overall, biomass in the till and wetting agent treatments was at least twofold higher than the control. No benefit was found in applying both till and wetting agent treatments together in comparison to just applying wetting agent. Because of a lack of correlation between glasshouse and field settings the results of this study need to be interpreted with caution. Our data may indicate that if cheatgrass is not already present on the site, anchor chaining or treating the soil with wetting agent can increase establishment of seeded species.

Society for Range Management
Matthew D. Madsen, Steven L. Petersen, Bruce A. Roundy, Bryan G. Hopkins, and Alan G. Taylor "Comparison of Postfire Soil Water Repellency Amelioration Strategies on Bluebunch Wheatgrass and Cheatgrass Survival," Rangeland Ecology and Management 65(2), 182-188, (1 March 2012).
Received: 28 September 2010; Accepted: 1 November 2011; Published: 1 March 2012

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