Good soil moisture offers
Opportunity for range seeding
By Jeffrey R. Stapper
County Extension Agent-Ag/Natural Resources
Ranchers with rangeland in poor condition due to the droughts of recent years may want to consider a seeding program in the next few weeks to help speed up restoration of the rangelands. By seeding ranges that have deteriorated due to drought and overgrazing, range managers can again make them productive. Seeding is also usually a best management practice following root-plowing used for brush control.
Range seeding is usually done in late winter or early spring, and since seeding is expensive and the risk of failure is always present, careful attention must be given to a number of important factors.
To begin, evaluate the quality of your current range, noting the distribution and number of desirable plants currently present. If you find that desirable plants make up less than 10 percent to 15 percent of the vegetation, seeding is probably justified. If you have more than 10 percent to 15 percent desirable plants, you can improve your rangeland with improved grazing management along with weed and brush management.
Seed only better sites to insure reasonable chances of success. Steep, potentially erosive sites should not be disturbed. Species and varieties of plants selected for seeding must be adapted to the area’s soil, climate, and topography. Moreover, plants selected should be easily established, palatable to animals, productive, able to withstand invasion by undesirable plants, and able to withstand moderate grazing pressure, while at the same time preventing erosion.
Plant into a well prepared seedbed that is firm below the seeding depth and free from live plant competition. The two most common methods of seeding rangeland are broadcast and drill. Broadcasting places seed on the soil surface while drilling places seed into the soil. Drilling is the best method; however, due to rough rangeland, broadcast seeding by aerial or ground application is the most common method used.
A newly seeded area will need protection from grazing until the seedlings are established. With good growing conditions, deferment through one growing season may be adequate; however during periods of poor growing conditions, more time may be needed to establish the newly seeded area. Weed control may also be needed during the first growing season to allow the seeded species to become established.
Information on plants adapted to your local area can be obtained from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Bookstore online at http://agrilifebookstore.org/ by loading the publication on Seeding Rangeland, or visit with your local County Extension Agent.