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The effect of reseeding methods on secondary succession during cropland restoration in the Highveld region of South Africa
Van Oudtshoorn, F.
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The Grassland biome is the most transformed biome in South Africa, with cultivation and other human impacts having the largest effect on pristine grasslands. Conversion of natural grassland to cropland agriculture destroys natural vegetation seed banks. When croplands on the South African Highveld are abandoned, secondary succession often leads to low diversity Hyparrhenia hirta dominated plant communities. To investigate the effect of reseeding on secondary succession and botanical diversity, various reseeding treatments of cropland restoration were established on a recently abandoned cropland at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. Plots combining two seed mixtures, two seeding rates and two sowing methods were monitored and evaluated. The sowing method (plough vs rip-line) had the largest influence on the suppression of relic weeds as well as possible establishment of local non-sown species. The rip-line plots, where more resources were available due to spaces between the rip-lines, initially experienced higher densities of relic weeds followed by an increase in local non-sown species densities. Hyparrhenia hirta was one of the non-sown perennials increasing in the rip-line plots. The growth of H. hirta and relic weeds was, however, controlled in the plough plots, where species densities and phytomass production of perennial sown-in species were the highest.