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Soil seed bank community structure of pastures and hayfields on an organic farm

Matt A. Sanderson, Robert Stout, Sarah Goslee, Jeff Gonet, Richard G. Smith
Canadian journal of plant science 2014 v.94 pp. 621-631
weed biology, grasses, autumn, community structure, fields, meadows, pastures, sward, Medicago sativa, soil, alfalfa, Poaceae, summer, permanent grasslands, soil sampling, buried seeds, weeds, organic production, forbs, New Hampshire
Understanding the composition of seed banks in pasture soils would help farmers anticipate and manage for weed problems. We characterized the soil seed bank in eight pastures and hayfields [two alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and two predominantly grass hayfields; two recently established and two permanent pastures] within an organic dairy farm in southeastern New Hampshire. Seed banks were sampled in the upper 5 cm of soil in each field at a point scale in 2007 and 2010. In 2010, the seed bank was characterized at the field scale by taking soil samples on six 52-m transects in each field. Seed banks sampled at the field scale in 2010 contained 66 plant species. The total number of seeds in the seed bank ranged from 1560 m-2 in grass hayfields in autumn to more than 20 000 m-2 in alfalfa hayfields in summer. Annual forbs dominated the seed bank of alfalfa fields and recently established pastures, whereas perennial graminoids dominated in one grass hayfield and the permanent pastures. These results suggest that management history affects soil seed bank composition and abundance and these effects should be considered before implementing management practices that could stimulate recruitment from the seed bank.