Evaluating non-native annual brome control with herbicides and facilitating Wyoming big sagebrush establishment in degraded drylands
Metier, Emily Pierson
MetadataShow full item record
The degradation of drylands, through resource extraction and non-native annual brome invasion, is a major problem throughout the Intermountain West. Most restoration relies on establishing desired species from seed, but success is limited and establishing Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) is especially failure prone. This study focused on developing methods for controlling annual bromes, specifically cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) and Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus Thunb.), and successfully re-introducing native sagebrush steppe species to degraded drylands. In the greenhouse, I assessed the efficacy of glyphosate and four graminicides (clethodim, sethoxydim, fluazifop, and quizalofop) applied at two rates, to cheatgrass plants of different heights. I also assessed the same five herbicides on three accessions of cheatgrass and Japanese brome. All herbicides reduced cheatgrass biomass, with most effective control on plants less than 11 cm. Overall, glyphosate and sethoxydim treatments were least effective, and quizalofop and fluazifop treatments were most effective. Japanese brome and the disturbed accessions of both species were more susceptible to herbicides than cheatgrass and the undisturbed accessions. My field study targeted the same annual bromes on two Montana coal mines. Four herbicide treatments (control, glyphosate, quizalofop, or glyphosate plus quizalofop) and two seeding treatments (differing in the amount of sagebrush seed) were evaluated for their effectiveness to manage annual bromes and boost seeded species establishment. Half of each herbicide plot was retreated with quizalofop the second year. All herbicide treatments reduced annual brome cover, especially in plots that received glyphosate. Wyoming big sagebrush density and cover of sown species increased in seeded plots with and without herbicides, but there was no difference between seeding treatments. Herbicide effects on seeded species were inconsistent, though generally establishment was greatest in plots receiving glyphosate. Quizalofop retreatment reduced annual brome cover, but did not impact seeded species establishment. These results suggest that targeted herbicide applications can be used to control non-native annual bromes and increase seeded species establishment. Specifically, using glyphosate pre-seeding when plants are small and graminicides post-seeding, can decrease annual brome cover. These treatments can provide a window of opportunity for establishing species from seed, including Wyoming big sagebrush.