A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Iowa Press
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What was the tallgrass prairie? Why should we care about reconstructing it today? No living person today remembers Iowa when tallgrass prairie—a highly diverse community of drought-tolerant grasses, sedges, and wildflowers—stretched from the Mississippi to the Missouri River. Botanist Daryl Smith has written that nearly all of Iowa’s original prairie disappeared in the seventy years between 1830 and 1900, ...
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What does today’s tallgrass prairie look like? Where can you find one? In order to understand what a prairie is, we first need to define it. The word “prai-rie” has many meanings. Some consider it an open landscape where the horizon is generally visible in all directions. Whether this landscape is planted to grass, grain, or indigenous vegetation is of little consequence. The word “prairie” may still have ...
Seed Selection and Harvest
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Why use seed rather than live plants? How many species should you plant? Seeding a prairie, as opposed to planting with live plants, is the only economical way to establish any area larger than a backyard garden. The greatest problem in planting a prairie is obtaining a diverse seed assortment at an economical price.We have already mentioned in chapter 2 that prairies often contain two to three ...
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How did prairie soils develop? Will prairie plants grow equally well in rich and poor soils?Prairie soils, which support today’s agriculture so successfully, developed over a peri-od of thousands of years. Research by David Montgomery, cited in the July 2008 issue of Scientific American, indicates that topsoil formation is a very slow process; it can take from 700 to 1,500 years to form an inch of soil. Before cultivation, the growth and ...
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What kind of tillage should you use? Should you use herbicides in addition to tillage?Planting tallgrass prairie has many similarities to planting a garden or a field crop such as corn, soybeans, oats, or alfalfa. As with gardens and farm crops, it is far easier to start new plants in a weed-free environment. Tallgrass prairie planted by nature before the influence of Euro-American immigrants grew with little competi-...
Old Pasture Seeding
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What is the procedure for seeding an old pasture? Are there any benefits?If you’re thinking about establishing prairie in an old pasture, here are some recom-mendations. Before doing anything to the site, take an inventory of what is grow-ing there. We purchased an eighty-acre pasture fourteen years ago, and during the summer before we took possession we were able to make a list of nearly one hundred ...
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What kinds of equipment will work best? How much seed should you plant? There is no perfect time to seed tallgrass prairie. Successful plantings have been done in spring, summer, and fall. For many years we planted in mid to late June and found that we had fewer weed problems than we encountered with early spring seed-ings. There is also less chance of erosion from very heavy spring rains after mid June....
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The challenges of establishing and maintaining reconstructed or restored prairie communities at times require every tool at your disposal. If you have a backyard gar-den, your hoe may be all that you need, but if you are working with more than a few acres, hand-weeding is often out of the question for some problem plants.Thus, many land managers find the judicious use of herbicides an effective way to ...
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Our postplanting mowing begins when annual weeds have grown twelve to fifteen inches high after a summer planting. If the seed was planted in the fall, you will need Summer weed pressure on previously cultivated cropland will likely consist of lamb’s quarters, velvetleaf or buttonweed, pigweed, yellow and giant foxtail, com-mon and giant ragweed, nightshade, and smartweed. Mowing to a height of three or ...
Fire in Tallgrass Prairie
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Why is fire used in prairie management? What are its negative influences? Fire stimulates growth and development and can be used as early as the beginning of the third growing season. The prairie without fire quickly becomes unstable and gradually changes to woodland. Fire is a disturbance, but a necessary one if a prairie is to remain a prairie. Because the growing points of most plants are below the soil ...
Growth and Development
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How long until my prairie is mature? Does species diversity affect long-term stability? It is important to understand that considerable time is required for prairie to develop from seed to seedlings to a mature successional stage. Plantings that appear to be The first year of growth for most plantings rarely shows promise. Since seed-lings first put down an extensive root system, they are difficult to find during the ...
Questions and Answers
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How can I eliminate a pure stand of reed canary grass, smooth brome grass, silver plume or pam-pas grass, or switchgrass prior to planting or control it in an established site?You can first try to curtail seed production of these species through the process of summer haying or constant mowing. This should be followed by an application of Roundup, applied at a rate of at least three quarts of Roundup to twenty gallons of ...
Seed Sources and Services
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... Bottle gentians, rigid goldenrod, grass-leaved goldenrod, and the reddish stems of saw-tooth sunflowers are mixed with native grasses in a moist prairie swale in late August. An asterisk indicates that the supplier carries some or all local-ecotype seeds or plants....
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Page Count: 80
Illustrations: 27 color photos, 2 maps, 1 table
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Bur Oak Book
Series Editor Byline: Holly Carver