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National Laboratory for Health Security

Control of invasive plant species during grassland restoration: timing of seed sowing is key

Timing and the right quantity and composition of the seed mixture are key in seeded grassland restoration. Research by the Centre for Ecological Research has sought to answer the question of how to time the sowing of seed mix components to best establish grassland species and effectively control invasive species and weed. Grasses are usually the backbone of seed mixtures: they form the matrix of the grassland and play an important role in suppressing weed. In landscape-scale habitat restoration projects, it is often not feasible to sow a large area with a diverse seed mix, as there is often not enough seed mix with the right species composition available. In case of the restored species-poor, closed grasslands, additional effort and work is required to establish forb species and control invasive species in later stages of restoration.

In this study, the researchers of the ‘Lendület’ Vegetation and Seedbank Dynamics Research Group combined the sowing of a diverse seed mixture of 20 dry grassland species with the sowing of grass seeds (Festuca pseudovina). They tested how the composition of the plant communities varied depending on whether forb species were sown at the same time as the grass seeds or in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year after sowing.

The results showed that more work invested in the early stages of grassland reconstruction pays off and leads to more successful outcomes. The results suggest that the best solution is to sow the forb species seeds at the same time as the grass seeds. These plots had the highest diversity of established grassland, the lowest levels of weed infestation and invasive species cover, and the most successful establishment of companion species. The results suggest that the most cost-effective and efficient method is to sow a diverse seed mix at the same time as grass seed sowing, at the beginning of the reconstruction.

The first author of the paper, Réka Kiss, has been awarded the MTA Environmental Youth Prize in recognition of her results.



Kiss, R., Deák, B., Tóth, K., Lukács, K., Rádai, Z., Kelemen, A., Miglécz, T., Tóth, Á., Godó, L., Valkó, O. (2022). Co-seeding grasses and forbs supports restoration of species-rich grasslands and improves weed control in ex-arable land. Scientific Reports 12: 21239. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-25837-4

This research was supported by the National Talent Programme of Hungary and the Prime Minister's Office (NTP-NFTÖ-21-B-0288), and by the National Laboratory for Health Security (RRF-2.3.1-21-2022-00006), Centre for Ecological Research, Budapest, Hungary.