Integrated Management of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) with Sheep Grazing and Herbicide


Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) is one of the most problematic weeds in western United States rangelands and sagebrush steppe. It responds positively to different forms of disturbance, and its management has proven difficult. Herbicide or targeted grazing alone often fail to provide adequate long-term control. Integrating both may afford better control by providing multiple stressors to the weed. We assessed herbicide application, targeted sheep grazing and integrated herbicide and grazing on B. tectorum and the plant community in rangeland in southwestern Montana from 2015 until 2017. Herbicide treatments included spring-applied (May 2015 and 2016) glyphosate, fall-applied (October 2015) glyphosate, imazapic and rimsulfuron, and spring-applied glyphosate plus fall-applied imazapic. Targeted grazing, consisting of four sheep/0.01 ha for a day in 5 m x 20 m plots (all vegetation removed to the ground surface), occurred twice (May 2015 and 2016). While no treatments reduced B. tectorum biomass or seed production, grazing integrated with fall-applied imazapic or rimsulfuron reduced B. tectorum cover from approximately 26% to 14% in 2016 and from 33% to 16% in 2017, compared to ungrazed control plots, and by an even greater amount compared to these herbicides applied without grazing. By 2017, all treatments except spring-applied glyphosate increased total plant cover (excluding <B. tectorum) by 8% - 12% compared to the control plots, and forbs were generally responsible for this increase. Bromus tectorum management is difficult and our results point to a potential management paradox: Integrating grazing and fall-applied herbicide decreased B. tectorum cover but did not increase native grass cover, while some herbicides without grazing increased native grass cover, but failed to control B. tectorum. Additional research is necessary to determine grazing strategies that will complement herbicide control of B. tectorum while also stimulating native grass recovery, but this initial study demonstrates the potential of integrated management of B. tectorum compared to grazing or herbicide alone.




Lehnhoff, Erik A., Lisa J. Rew, Jane M. Mangold, Tim Seipel, and Devon Ragen. “Integrated Management of Cheatgrass (Bromus Tectorum) with Sheep Grazing and Herbicide.” Agronomy 9, no. 6 (June 14, 2019): 315. doi:10.3390/agronomy9060315.
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