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A field test of commercial soil microbial treatments on native grassland restoration

Perkins, Lora B., Bennett, Joe R.
Restoration ecology 2018 v.26 no.5 pp. 851-857
bacteria, fungi, fungicides, grassland restoration, grasslands, home gardens, inoculum, plant establishment, seedlings, soil, soil microorganisms, wildland
Seedling establishment and performance are often limiting steps in many grassland restorations. The soil microbial community is thought to be a factor that contributes to the poor performance of seedlings. Therefore, we conducted a field test to examine the ability of four treatments to alter the soil microbial community and improve seedling performance during restoration. Treatments were commercially available bacterial inoculum, fungal inoculum, fungicide, and a bacteria/fungicide combination which were all designed and sold to enhance plant performance. We hypothesized that if the soil microbial community was limiting the performance of seedlings, then these products would remediate detrimental effects of the soil microbial community resulting in greater seedling performance. However, during the 2 years after restoration, no effect of the treatments was found. It is plausible that the treatments designed for agriculture or home garden settings were not appropriate for a wildland system.