Planting time, first-year mowing, and seed mix design influence ecological outcomes in agroecosystem revegetation projects
ecosystem services, erosion control, pollinator habitat, revegetation projects, tallgrass prairie, weed resistance
The conversion of tallgrass prairie to agriculture has negatively affected provisioning of ecosystem services. Successful restoration of ecosystem services could depend on management decisions applied during revegetation projects. We examined the effects of three management decisions (seed mix design, planting time, and first-year mowing) on targeted ecosystem services (erosion control, weed resistance, and pollinator resources). We tested three seed mixes of varying diversity and grass-to-forb seeding ratios: Economy mix (21 species, 3:1 grass:forb), Pollinator mix (38 species, 1:3), and Diversity mix (71 species, 1:1). We established plots at two planting times (dormant-season and spring) with or without first-year mowing. To assess ecosystem services, we measured stem density, canopy cover, and floral density and richness of sown species in the second year after planting. The Economy mix had the highest stem density and cover but lowest floral density and richness. The Pollinator mix had the lowest stem density and cover but highest floral density. The Diversity mix had comparable stem density and cover to the Economy mix and comparable floral density and richness to the Pollinator mix. Mowing accelerated native plant establishment in all seed mixes. Dormant-season planting improved establishment of spring and fall forbs and favored cool-season graminoids over warm-season grasses. All three management decisions influenced ecosystem outcomes, and comparison to a previous study revealed these effects to be robust to variation in site and climatic conditions. We recommend a diverse, balanced seed mix design, first-year mowing, and dormant-season planting to improve multifunctionality of conservation projects.
Department of Biology
Tallgrass Prairie Center
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Glidden, Alec J.; Sherrard, Mark E.; Meissen, Justin C.; Myers, Mark C.; Elgersma, Kenneth J.; and Jackson, Laura L., "Planting time, first-year mowing, and seed mix design influence ecological outcomes in agroecosystem revegetation projects" (2022). Faculty Publications. 5317.