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Using hydrogel filled, embedded tubes to sustain grass transplants for arid land restoration

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Grass restoration on remote arid rangelands may require irrigation to stimulate establishment. However, irrigation on undeveloped sites is costly. Vertical irrigation tubes that direct applied moisture to subsurface zones where evaporation is reduced, and hydrogels that prevent applied moisture from infiltrating beyond plant root zones can maximize the portion of applied water available for plant uptake. The survival and growth of Bouteloua eriopoda (Torr.) Torr. transplants irrigated with either starch- or acrylic-based hydrogels contained in one of three embedded watering tube styles were evaluated in a greenhouse trial. A field trial evaluated differences in transplant survival and cover between treatments consisting of embedded watering tubes with or without acrylic hydrogels. Greenhouse transplants from all treatments grew 146 days on less than 1 L of water. Plants irrigated with starch hydrogels consumed the most water and exhibited the most growth. Variations in tube styles had minor effects on plant growth and water loss from tubes. In the field, heavy growing season precipitation was observed, and transplant survival was high for both treatments. No significant differences in cover were detected. Greenhouse data demonstrate potential for hydrogel filled, embedded tubes to provide adequate moisture for establishment and growth of deep-rooted black grama transplants. Field data indicate deep-rooted black grama transplants establish successfully when adequate moisture is available.
Lucero, M.E. , Dreesen, D.R. , VanLeeuwen, D.M.
Includes references
Journal of arid environments 2010 Aug., v. 74, issue 8
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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