The University of Arizona

Effects of cattle trampling and mechanical seedbed preparation on grass seedling emergence.

V.K. Winkel, B.A. Roundy


Cattle trampling has been recommended to bury seeds and encourage seedling establishment but has not been compared with traditional seedbed preparation techniques. We compared seedling emergence of broadcast-seeded 'Vaughn' sideoats grams [Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr], 'A-130' blue panic (Panicum antidotale Retz.), 'A-68' Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees), and 'Cochise' atherstone lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees X E. tricophera Coss and Dur.) on lightly and heavily trampled seedbeds with that on undisturbed, land imprinted, and root-plowed or ripped seedbeds. We seeded and applied the treatments prior to summer rains on a sandy loam soil in southern Arizona for 3 years. In a wet year (1987) when surface soil water was estimated to be available for at least 24 consecutive days, heavy trampling and land imprinting increased emergence of blue panic and land imprinting increased emergence of Cochise lovegrass. In that year, lovegrass emergence was high even on undisturbed plots. In a moderately wet year (1988), surface soil water was available for periods of 6-9 days during seedling emergence and greater disturbance, either by heavy trampling, land imprinting and/or root plowing or ripping produced higher emergence than light trampling and nondisturbance. In a dry year (1989), surface soil water was available for periods of 2-3 days and seedling emergence was low and generally similar for all treatments. Sideoats grama emergence was low all 3 years, but was highest in 1988 when initial thunderstorms were followed closely by subsequent storms. Seedbed disturbance by cattle and mechanical methods may enhance revegetation in the Southwest in years of moderate precipitation but may be unnecessary in wet years or futile in dry years, depending on species and soils.


land imprinting;plowing;buried seeds;seedbed preparation;Bouteloua curtipendula;hybrids;Eragrostis;Panicum antidotale;eragrostis tricophera;seedling emergence;seeds;land restoration;cattle;Eragrostis lehmanniana;trampling;Arizona

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