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Rangeland pitting for revegetation and annual weed control

December 13, 2023

On the Ground

  • Soil pitting is an ancient technique for concentrating soil moisture to enable plant establishment and promote plant growth. It is especially effective in arid areas where plant establishment is limited by water availability.
  • Pits created by digging and mounding action have been shown to be effective. Small pits made by soil compression are not very durable. Larger pits last longer and store more moisture.
  • In mesic areas or years with above-average soil moisture, pitting may not be needed for plant establishment, and better results may be obtained by drill seeding.
  • Pitting can help control some non-native annual plants by hindering their seed dispersal and concentrating their seeds within pits. This increases intraspecific competition and limits seed production. The pitting technique has been demonstrated in several studies as an effective control tactic for cheatgrass.
  • Pitting is a strategy that may become more important as climates become hotter and more variable, as it allows soils to stay wetter for longer periods of time.
  • Many custom-built machines have been developed to create soil pits efficiently. Commercially available machines are less common. Currently, pitters that dig and mound soil and are suitable for rangelands are not commercially available in North America.
Publication Year 2024
Title Rangeland pitting for revegetation and annual weed control
DOI 10.1016/j.rala.2023.11.002
Authors Danielle Bilyeu Johnston, Rebecca K. Mann
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Rangelands
Index ID 70250672
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center