Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 11:45 AM

Resiliency of Switchgrasses for Sandy Soil Training Areas.

Antonio Palazzo1, Timothy Cary1, Thomas, J. Lent2, and Ian Warden2. (1) USA CRREL, 72 Lyme Rd., 72 Lyme Rd., Hanover, NH 03755-1290, United States of America, (2) Fort Drum, P-4855 Jones Street, Watertown, NY 13206

Sandy soil areas, plentiful throughout the cool and warm humid areas of the United States, cover many acres of military training lands. Establishing native plants on sandy soils is difficult due to the low moisture and nutrient holding capacities of the soil and the need to return the lands to training as quickly as possible. Warm-season grasses are often the species of choice to revegetate low-use areas; they were initially promoted by agriculturalists during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s for reseeding abandoned farmlands. Previous research has emphasized plant yields that are appropriate for animal production or for revegetation of low-use areas such as borrow pits. Military sites require different establishment materials and methods as they are often more heavily used and there is a push to use primarily natives. We are presenting results of studies on the establishment of native grasses on military training lands. We will explore methods of establishing a suitable plant cover that will allow the establishment of native plants over time. To assess the growth of a native plant in sandy soils we established a series of experiments to look at the factors that will optimize the success of the native plant. Field studies on planting techniques have indicated that a series of steps, including compaction of the soil after the seed is sown, is necessary to successfully rehabilitate these lands. We have also found suitable species for reseeding these sandy soils in cold regions, but there are restrictions in terms of seeding season, time required for establishment, and length of persistence. Recent training damage to stands of switchgrasses showed that this species was able to naturally re-establish itself thus showing its resiliency.