RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS



US must sow the right seeds to prevent another dust bowl

In this Live Science article, Francis Kilkenny, lead of Great Basin Native Plant Project (GBNPP), shares information about the GBNPP and how it continues to support more successful rangeland restoration. 

Lessons learned, so far include:

  • Climate is more important than geography when predicting how well seeds will grow and establish themselves. Seeds don't care where their parents lived if the temperature suits them and if they get the right amount of sunshine and precipitation. 
  • Timing of seed planting makes a big difference. Year to year, even week to week, variation in weather patterns can affect the restoration success of a burned site.
  • Method of planting matters. To achieve the best results, scientists recommend tamping seeds into the ground to ensure they have good contact with the soil, or in some cases, planting a species in the form of "plugs." 
  • Long-term monitoring after planting is critical to determine the effectiveness of different seed mixes and restoration techniques. 
  • Keeping livestock off seeded rangeland for at least three years improves a restoration effort's likelihood of success.