The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Topsoil removal and carbon addition for weed control and native grass recruitment in a temperate-derived grassland in northern New South Wales

Sharon L. Brown A D , Nick Reid A , Jackie Reid C , Rhiannon Smith A , R. D. B. (Wal) Whalley A and David Carr B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Ecosystem Management, School of Environmental and Rural Science, Queen Elizabeth Drive, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

B Stringybark Ecological, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.

C School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: sbrown35@myune.edu.au

The Rangeland Journal 39(4) 355-361 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ17029
Submitted: 13 April 2017  Accepted: 25 September 2017   Published: 27 October 2017

Abstract

Restoring the grassy understorey to temperate woodlands in south-eastern Australia is often disregarded due to a poor understanding of the techniques involved. The natural recruitment of native grasses is uncommon in the remnants of some of these woodlands, so the restoration of the grass layer is often dependent on interventions to overcome restoration barriers. Soil enrichment from agricultural fertilisers favours the invasion of exotic broadleaf weeds and grasses, and is one of the primary barriers to the successful recruitment and establishment of native grasses, which dominated before agricultural development. This study on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales investigated the effects of different weed control treatments – scalping, glyphosate (Roundup®) herbicide, and combinations of glyphosate with carbon (sugar and sawdust) addition and a control (nil treatment) recruitment of native grasses and weed emergence after broadcast seeding. The experimental site was a mown grass lawn consisting of fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.), cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.) and paspalum (Paspalum dilatatum Poir). Native grass recruitment varied significantly between treatments. The maximum number of recruits in scalped plots was 29 recruits m–2 compared with an average of <2 recruits m–2 for the glyphosate and glyphosate carbon combinations. Scalping reduced soil nitrogen from 0.6% in non-scalped plots to 0.1% and phosphorus from 191.6 ppm to 40.3 ppm. Maximum weed cover occurred in the glyphosate herbicide treatment (45%), whereas combinations of glyphosate plus either sugar or sawdust maintained weed cover at 13%. The present study suggests that scalping may be a successful intervention strategy because it has the potential to significantly improve native grass recruitment compared with other restoration methods used in this study. Scalping allows more time for native grasses to germinate and establish in the absence of competitive fast-growing exotic weeds.

Additional keywords: restoration, sawdust, scalping, sugar, weed emergence.


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