Soil-water and vegetation dynamics through 20 years after big sagebrush control.

Sturges, D.L.
Rangeland Ecology & Management / Journal of Range Management Archives
Publication Year: 
Soil water withdrawal and vegetation characteristics of mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentala ssp. vaseyana Rydb. Beetie) areas sprayed with 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) were measured for 20 years after treatment. Herbaceous productivity more than doubled in the first 3 years after spraying and was still twice as great as untreated vegetation 10 to 17 years after treatment. Sagebrush removal reduced seasonal water depletion 9% to a 1.8-m soil depth, equal to 2.4 cm of water. The entire difference was realized from soil 0.9-1.8 m deep. Depletion from the surface 0.9 m of soil under grass-dominated vegetation slightly exceeded depletion under sagebrush-dominated vegetation. Mathematical relationships were developed that predict the percent reduction in seasonal water depletion in relation to time since sagebrush control for soil depths of 0.0-1.8 m, 0.0-0.9 m, and 0.9-1.8 m. Mountain big sagebrush was a minor vegetation constituent on treated areas 20 years after spraying. Sagebrush density increased from 2,100 to 4,400 plant/ha between 10 and 20 years after spraying while herbaceous production ranged between 28 and 52 kg/ha. Both density and canopy cover of sagebrush on untreated areas declined significantly over the study because of the actions of a snowmold fungus.
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
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Rangeland Ecology & Management (formerly the Journal of Range Management) serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of facts, ideas, and philosophies pertaining to the study, management, ecology, and use of rangelands and their resources. The journal is peer-reviewed and provides international exchange of scholarly research and information among persons interested in rangelands. The Global Rangelands collection includes REM content up to 5 years from the current year. More recent content is available by subscription from BioOne and the Society for Range Management, and may be available at your local university library.
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