MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS
Location: Range Management Research
Title: Predicting soil erosion and deposition effects on plant establishment: A key to increasing restoration success
Submitted to: International Rangeland Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 29, 2008
Publication Date: June 30, 2008
Citation: Herrick, J.E., Peters, D.C., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Okin, G.S., Hansen, N.K., Havstad, K.M. 2008. Predicting soil erosion and deposition effects on plant establishment: A key to increasing restoration success. In: Proceedings Multifunctional Grasslands in a Changing World. XXI International Grassland Congress, VII International Rangeland Congress, June 30-July 5, 2008, Hohhot, China. p. 743.
Soil erosion and deposition can result in significant modification of the soil profile, including changes in soil surface texture and structure. A series of field studies and modeling exercises are currently being completed at the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert in south-central New Mexico, USA to examine the effects of soil erosion and deposition on plant establishment. As predicted, model results showed that sand addition to the soil surface affected establishment differently depending on the amount of sand added and the initial soil texture. Field studies of areas where sand deposition has been occurring during past several decades indicate that plant community dynamics are controlled by a number of different factors in addition to sand deposition, and that feedbacks with the plant community itself are likely to be important. We conclude that careful characterization of site conditions and soil profile characteristics should be completed before restoration. At a minimum, changes in soil water characteristics should be predicted using texture relationships. In some cases, restoration treatments can be designed to improve water holding capacity by promoting soil deposition.