How to translate text using browser tools
18 May 2023 Potential to Improve Wyoming Big Sagebrush Establishment with a Root-Enhancement Seed Technology
Magdalena M. Eshleman, Corinna Riginos
Author Affiliations +

Restoration of the foundational species, big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.), of the sagebrush steppe biome has not kept pace with the loss of habitat, demanding new tools to improve its restoration. Seed enhancement technology (SET) is one approach that is increasingly being tested in native plant restoration as a means to overcome establishment barriers. Like many semiarid shrubs, sagebrush faces establishment barriers from inadequate moisture, competition from faster-growing grasses, and limited available nutrients. We performed a series of laboratory trials testing whether nutrient amendments could be applied to sagebrush seed using a SET to increase root length and biomass, thereby potentially increasing seedling survival. We initially tested 11 amendments applied directly to bare seeds; of these, a high-phosphorus fertilizer resulted in a 2.7x increase in root biomass and 71-mm increase in root length over the control. We then tested incorporating this fertilizer at multiple concentrations into a pellet SET and a ground dust. Although the fertilizer, particularly at higher concentrations, conferred some enhancement to seedling biomass, the pellet treatments had substantially lower emergence and survival than bare seed and dust treatments. These results indicate the potential for a “root-enhancement” SET to benefit sagebrush and other species like it; they also illustrate some of the challenges of SET development for native species. Sagebrush has small seeds that typically need light to germinate. Further work is needed to develop an appropriate technology that does not negatively impact emergence but still provides enough nutrients for enhanced root growth. Field testing is also needed to determine if increases in root growth translate into greater survival. Given the low success rate of sagebrush seeding in restoration projects, however, we suggest that it is worth considering root-enhancement SET alongside other efforts to improve sagebrush establishment success.

Magdalena M. Eshleman and Corinna Riginos "Potential to Improve Wyoming Big Sagebrush Establishment with a Root-Enhancement Seed Technology," Rangeland Ecology and Management 88(1), 143-151, (18 May 2023).
Received: 6 October 2022; Accepted: 6 March 2023; Published: 18 May 2023
Artemisia tridentata
root enhancement
Seed enhancement technology
Get copyright permission
Back to Top