Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Evaluating methods to establish biodiverse pasturelands with native grasses and wildflowers.

Abstract

Virginia's pasturelands are dominated by tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., nom. cons. [Poaceae]), a competitive, non-native grass. Tall fescue has limited value for wildlife and insect pollinators, and it can pose issues for livestock if infected with an endophyte that produces a toxic alkaloid. Potential exists for developing more biodiverse pasturelands that would help reduce problems associated with tall fescue while increasing ecosystem services associated with improved wildlife and pollinator habitat. Native warm-season grasses (NWSG) and wildflowers (WF) have potential forage and conservation benefits; however, more research is needed to determine effective strategies that land managers can use to establish these species. This article summarizes 4 field experiments designed to evaluate establishment methods for NWSG and WF in tall fescue pasturelands. Experiments were established from 2016 to 2020 in central and western Virginia. Three evaluated pre-emergent imazapic herbicide applications while the fourth evaluated other methods, including glyphosate application, glyphosate combined with raking, prescribed fire, and tillage, to establish NWSG and WF. In the 3 experiments evaluating imazapic applications, the herbicide consistently suppressed wildflowers, with the exception of Rudbeckia hirta L. (Asteraceae), Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacMill. ex B.L. Rob. & Fernald (Fabaceae), Coreopsis lanceolata L. (Asteraceae), and Leucanthemum vulgare Lam. (Asteraceae). In the fourth experiment, tillage was the most effective method to establish wildflowers. Overall, we found imazapic can improve NWSG establishment, but suppresses most WF species tested in this environment. Methods to achieve more consistent WF establishment are needed if adoption of more biodiverse pasturelands becomes a future management goal.