Seeding Rangeland

Sustaining natural resources and productive environments, such as Texas rangelands, requires skilled, science-based management. Range seeding is a management tool that can help you develop, alter and improve the range ecosystem. Range seeding is expensive and there is always some risk of failure. In many cases, though, seeding may be the most practical and environmentally sound practice for restoring rangelands and missing ecosystem functions.

The objective of range seeding is usually to alter the composition of vegetation so that the productivity of the land, especially its livestock grazing capacity, will increase. However, seeding is not a cure for bad management or a substitute for good management. Managers must assess the causes of rangeland deterioration and address them. Seeding alone will not solve problems that previous management has created, nor is seeding always profitable in terms of forage produced.

What does a successful seeding look like? The seeding rate for native grasses is 20 live seed planted per square foot, with a goal (when the objective is range improvement and land restoration) of two established plants per square foot, or 10 percent.

Requirements for Successful Seeding

The greatest risk in range seeding lies in our inability to predict rainfall and other conditions at planting and during the establishment period. The chances of success decreases dramatically the farther west and north you go, because of low rainfall.

1. Deciding to seed
2. Grass mixture versus monoculture
3. Moisture
4. Seed selection
5. Native versus non-native plants
6. Planting method
7. Land preparation
8. Weed control

Range seeding is risky. Plan accordingly and be prepared to adjust your management to prevent future crises. To get the most benefit from seeding you may need to shift your overall management of the land resource. Areas seeded with native grasses usually require better grazing management and at least a one-year deferment from grazing during the establishment phase.

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