Strip-seeding for Grassland Restoration: Past Successes and Future Potential


Perennial grassland restoration has become an important worldwide conservation objective due to ongoing reductions in biodiversity, ecosystem services, habitat, and landscape aesthetics. However, the success of grassland restoration strategies remains limited by many factors, including high cost. We present strip-seeding as a novel grassland restoration tool with the potential to be both ecologically and economically viable for a wide range of site conditions and management objectives. Strip-seeding refers to the application of seed in linear swaths to some fraction of total field area, as opposed to seeding uniformly across the entire field. Strip-seeding allows concentration of planting effort on a proportion of total field area to increase the probability of success in establishing desirable species while also decreasing seeding costs. Once established, desirable species should disperse and colonize unseeded areas over time without the need for further direct seeding. We reviewed existing literature on strip-seeding and related methods of spatially-patterned seeding. We discuss the potential advantages and underlying mechanisms of strip-seeding as a restoration method, including increased establishment, spread of seeded species into unseeded areas, and reduced restoration cost. We then propose four future research directions related to 1) designing strip configurations to match site conditions, 2) weed control in unseeded strips, 3) strip-seeding as a tool for grassland diversification, and 4) the scaling of restoration effects on ecosystem services. Strip-seeding has the potential to become an economically viable method for perennial grassland restoration and its adoption will be facilitated by future research that addresses these gaps in knowledge.