This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.
Top soil removal and carbon addition for weed control and native grass recruitment in a temperate derived grassland in northern New South Wales
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 prior to 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 to 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.
RJ17029 Accepted 25 September 2017
© Australian Rangeland Society 2017