Herbicide protection pods (HPPS) facilitate sagebrush and bunchgrass establishment under imazapic control of exotic annual grasses.
Revegetation of exotic annual grass-invaded rangelands is a primary objective of land managers following wildfires. Controlling invasive annual grasses is essential to increasing revegetation success; however, preemergent herbicides used to control annual grasses prohibit immediate seeding due to nontarget herbicide damage. Thus, seeding is often delayed 1 yr following herbicide application. This delay frequently allows for reinvasion of annual grasses, decreasing the success of revegetation efforts. Incorporating seeds into herbicide protection pods (HPPs) containing activated carbon (AC) permits concurrent high preemergent herbicide application and seeding because AC adsorbs and renders herbicides inactive. While HPPs have, largely in greenhouse studies, facilitated perennial bunchgrass emergence and early growth, their effectiveness in improving establishment of multiple species and functional groups in the field has not been assessed. Five bunchgrass species and two shrub species were seeded at two field sites with high imazapic application rates as bare seed and seed incorporated into HPPs. HPPs significantly improved establishment of sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata Nutt. Spp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young) and crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum [L.] Gaertn.) over the 2-yr study. Three native perennial grass species were protected from herbicide damage by HPPs but had low establishment in both treatments. The two remaining shrub and grass species did not establish sufficiently to determine treatment effects. While establishment of native perennial bunchgrasses was low, this study demonstrates that HPPs can be used to protect seeded bunchgrasses and sagebrush from imazapic, prolonging establishment time in the absence of competition with annual grasses.