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Restore Desirable Plants
IFAFS seeding crew on the range drill
Establishing and maintaining healthy desirable plants provides the best defense against weed invasion. Unfortunately, if control measures are successful, the space formerly occupied by the weeds often acts as a magnet for further weed invasions. To avoid reinvasion, desirable plants should be established immediately following successful control.

The decision to revegetate must consider direct costs (equipment, seeds and seeding, follow-up management), indirect costs (risk of failure, non-use during establishment period), and benefits (increased forage, improved ecosystem function, soil conservation, etc.). Following consideration of costs and benefits, plant species should be selected to meet management objectives.

Picture of indian ricegrass

When possible, the objective should be to restore native plant species. Native plants are the best choice because they maintain ecosystem integrity and balance. Native seeds can be collected from nearby areas or purchased commercially. Seeds collected nearby have the greatest likelihood of being adapted to site-specific conditions. Regardless of the seed source, acquiring native seeds is usually expensive, and successful establishment is variable.


Picture of crested wheatgrass

In some areas with continued weed influence and high likelihood of poor native plant establishment, another option is to revegetate with beneficial exotic plant species. This is often done with crested wheatgrass and introduced forbs like alfalfa. Initially, it is more important to establish desirable plants, prevent erosion, and discourage reinvasion than try to maintain native plant populations.

For proper planting techniques and advice on which plant species to use, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office, or county Extension agent.

Images:
-Range Planting: Cindy Salo.
-Indian ricegrass: © Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College.
-Crested wheatgrass: Louis-M. Landry © 2005.

Text references:
-Colorado Natural Areas Program. 2000. Creating an integrated weed management plan: A handbook for owners and managers of lands with natural values. Colorado Natural Areas Program, Colorado State Parks, Colorado Department of Natural Resources; and Division of Plant Industry, Colorado Department of Agriculture. Denver, Colorado. 349 pages.
-DiTomaso, J.M. 2000. Invasive weeds in rangelands: Species, impacts, and management. Weed Science. Vol. 48 No. 2 pp. 255-265.
-Guidelines for coordinated management of noxious weeds: Development of weed management areas. Center for Invasive Plant Management. Available: (http://www.weedcenter.org/management/guidelines/tableofcontents.html 17 October 2006).
-University of Nevada Reno. Cooperative Extension. Fact sheet 96-12. Available:(http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/FS96/FS9612.pdf 17 October 2006).

 

Cow hooves in the soil