Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum or A. cristatum) has been effectively used to stabilize arid and semi-arid range sites for decades. Reestablishing native plant materials into these areas is often desirable to increase wildlife habitat and ecological diversity. Due to its competitive nature, efforts to reestablish native plants into crested wheatgrass monocultures have had limited success. Tillage will control the grass but leaves the soil vulnerable to erosion and weed invasion. This publication will report on a trial conducted near Nephi, Utah to find a method of introducing native plants into a crested wheatgrass monoculture without subjecting the resource base to degradation in the conversion process. In this trial, the effect of chemically controlling crested wheatgrass before transplanting big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) was studied. Small container grown plants of sagebrush were transplanted either directly into a 60 year-old stand of crested wheatgrass or after chemically controlling the grass. Three different subspecies of big sagebrush; Basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. tridentata), Mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle) and Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young); were planted to see if there would be differences among subspecies. Four years of data indicate that controlling crested wheatgrass prior to transplanting resulted in higher sagebrush survival and faster establishment. There were some differences among sagebrush subspecies. Basin big sagebrush survived equally well with or without grass control but grew faster with grass control. Chemical control of the grass was important for both the survival and growth of Mountain big sage and Wyoming big sage.
Newhall, Robert L.; Rasmussen, V. Philip; and Kitchen, Boyd M.
"Introducing Big Sagebrush into a Crested Wheatgrass Monoculture,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 17, Article 26.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol17/iss1/26