Native grass seed development : progress after eight years Vaartnou, Manivalde, 1947-
Sound ecological restoration of disturbed areas includes the use of native species in the herbaceous layer. However, seed of grasses native to the west coast of British Columbia is neither available in sufficient quantity, nor at a reasonable price. Thus, in 1996 this long-term applied research program was initiated to determine the utility of native Vancouver Island grasses in restoration of disturbed areas, and ultimately provide a source of native grass seed for use on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland coast. The program is also a prototype for more recently initiated programs for development of native grass seed supplies for northwest Canada and the southern interior of British Columbia. Native grass seed was collected from the wild during the summers of 1996 and 1997. These seeds were sown to flats in the U.B.C. greenhouse. Subsequently the emergent plants were transplanted to a nursery near Duncan to multiply the seed so that the ensuing parts of the program could be undertaken. Replicated trial sites with agronomic controls were established throughout Vancouver Island. Other sites, which could not be replicated because of a lack of homogeneity in site characteristics, were established as demonstration sites, or larger operational sites. Each summer, the ground cover on all sites has been analyzed on a species by species basis using the ‘Daubenmire’ methodology. This analysis has indicated that native grasses produce at least as much ground cover as introduced, commercially available agronomic grasses. In order to ascertain the seed production potential of the more successful species, large plots were established near Dawson Creek. All aspects of these plots are handled in a manner identical to that which a farmer would use in field-scale seed production. This involves chemical, mechanical and manual weed control, drill seeding, and harvesting with a swather and combine. Results have indicated that some native grasses will produce substantial amounts of seed in the Peace River region, but others may need to be grown elsewhere.
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