A study done a few years ago compared runoff, erosion, and infiltration rates on native bunchgrasses vssodgrasses like bermuda. Based on 4 inch rainfall rate in 30 minutes bunchgrasses had lower runoff and erosion and greater infiltration. This means more water stays in the soil where it fell and can promote greater grass production in the future. But for those with pastures and hay fields, leave more residue on the ground and don’t let grasses like bermuda get eaten to less than 4-6 inches, and runoff and erosion can be reduced that way as well.These are benefits of natives vs. introduced
Now that I’ve convinced you to restore prairies, I will discuss some general steps to take in your restoration plan. Work with your TPWD, NRCS biologists and county extension agents because they have the local expertise to help you develop this plan.
Establishing goals is vital to a restoration project and will help determine which activities need to be implemented and in the correct sequence. There are many reasons to restore native prairies, increasing wildlife habitat which could help diversify ranch income, a less input forage source, or to control erosion prone areas and other watershed protection objectives. Set up measureable indicators that you can use to assess the success of the project. For example, you might say once you reach 50% cover of native grasses, then you can start managing by using burning or grazing to promote more coverage. These indicators can be developed with local biologists. Develop a budget for the project that you can afford. You don’t want to buy herbicide and spray and then realize you cant buy seed! Once you know how much you can spend, you can then focus on priority areas. There are many cost share programs available thru NRCS, TPWD, and others that can provide some financial assistance for these projects.
Take an inventory of your property to see which areas might be best suited for restoration and to select priority areas. If any exists, connect to existing prairie habitat on your property or surrounding properties (WHF example). If no habitat exists, good places to start are powerline easements, riparian areas, fencelines that can serve as corridors. (Discuss photo) It is best to examine your soils on web soil survey to see what will grow best there and to develop your seed mix to match that. NRCS or TPWD biologists can help with this too. It’s recommended that you not restore more than 10% of your land every year or every other year so that, especially for cattle producers, your not putting yourself out of business. It takes 2-3 years before you’ll get a good stand of native grasses, so patience is needed. In drought years, may take longer.
From a regional standpoint, I would focus on western navarro county and limestone county, but local scales may be much different.Hard to tell at this scale good areas to restore. Need web soil survey and TRIMS on your property
A great tool that has come out is the Trinity River Information Management System, or TRIMS, developed by the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources. This is similar to a GIS program but is available for free on the web at www.trims.tamu.edu. On this interactive website, you can zoom to your specific piece of land, or look at a watershed as a whole. Features on this website allow you to determine soil and vegetation types on the land, measure land area, access elevation and stream gauge data, and others all in the overall goal of conservation planning. On this site, you can determine areas that are best suited for restoration.Replace screen shot, maybe with amy teaching someone at screen
Point out areas that they may want to start (riparian areas) and avoid cropland. Talk about ease of restoring classes
Mycorrhizae and other soil organisms
Prairie RestorationBlake AlldredgeTexas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
What Is Native Prairie? Mixture of native grasses and forbs(aka weeds) Prairie specificwildlife, soil, geology, and fire areimportant Texas was 75% prairie and savanna Less than 1% of 20 million acresremains!
Site Selection Inventory ofproperty Connect to existinghabitat Easements, riparian areas, fencelines Examine soils(Web Soil Survey) 10% of land peryear or every otheryear
Trinity River Information ManagementSystem Accessible Interactive Watershedscale (local toregional) Soils, vegetation, elevation, stream data Restorationpotentialtrims.tamu.edu
Site Preparation For introduced grasses◦ Stop fertilizing to allow growth 10-12 in◦ Spray 4-5 quarts of Glyphosate per acre◦ For bahiagrass, spray 3/8 oz of Metsulfuronmethyl per acre◦ Best time to spray is June - August
Establishment of Natives Soil test prior toestablishment EstablishmentMethods◦ Passive restoration◦ No-Till◦ Broadcast Seed andHay Minimum 2 yearsfor establishment
Passive Restoration Relying on seedbank Minimum 10%native coverage Factors such asgrazing need to beaccounted for
Active Restoration No-Till seed drill◦ Better success◦ Good for highlyerodible, flat sites◦ Expensive◦ Mowing first 2 yearsto knock back forbsor other grasses
Active Restoration Broadcasting◦ Places seed on topof ground◦ More economical?◦ Best suited for roughterrain◦ Can use differentspreaders◦ Hoofaction, harrowing, chaining, cultipacking
Seed Selection Match with soil properties in your area◦ Ecological Site Descriptions Within 100 miles E/W, 200 miles N/S Pure Live Seed (PLS) - % of bulk seedmaterial that is live, viable seed Recommended seeding rates are 20live seed per ft2 Most seed mix seeding rates varyfrom 3-5 pounds PLS per acre
Seeding Depth critical because seedgermination requires good seed to soilcontact, with sufficient moisture andlight Plant ¼ to ½ inch deep Best time to plant is late fall to earlyspring Need 30 days of adequate soilmoisture to germinate Don’t plant during drought conditions!