Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation

  • Published source details Greipsson S. & Davy A.J. (1997) Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 1165-1176.


Iceland has vast areas of mobile sand resulting from volcanic activity, glaciers, over-grazing and erosion. Seed of the coastal, dune-building lyme-grass Leymus (Elymus) arenarius is harvested from natural stands for use in land reclamation and stabilisation programmes. The large scale of use dictates that establishment must be through seed rather than clonal propagation. This study investigated the use of fertilizer treatments in managing the production of seeds in a series of four experiments. The experiment looking at the effects on seed yield is summarized here.

Study area: The study was conducted on coastal sands at Thykkvibær, southern Iceland. At this site Leymus arenarius is the dominant plant species.

Fertilizer application: The experiment comprised 2 x 2 m plots, 2 m apart, in randomized blocks (10 treatments x three replicates). The 10 treatments were:

1) Control;

2-3) Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) added individually as commercial fertilizers (Thrifosfat™ at 20 kg/ha; Kaliklorid™ at 20 kg/ha, respectively);

4) Thrifosfat™ + Kaliklorid™ at 20 kg/ha each;

5-7) Nitrogen (N) added individually as Kjarni™ (50 kg and 100 kg/ha) or ammonium sulphate (100 kg/ha);

8) N and P added together as Módi™ (104 kg N, 56 kg P/ha);

9) N,P,K added together as Blákorn (100 kg N, 100 kg P, 58 kg K/ha);

10) N,P,K added together as Osmocote (100 kg N, 61 kg P, 56 kg K/ha) a slow-release fertilizer.

Leymus seed was harvested in the plots in August 1994 and August 1995.

Growth measurements: Flower spike density, individual spike length, seeds per spike, and air-dried seed mass per spike were recorded.

Seed yield was increased dramatically-in the coastal dunes by the application of nitrogen fertilizers, mainly as a result of increased flowering-spike density. Little short-term advantage accrued from additions of phosphorus or potassium. Additions of N (rapid-release formulations) at 50-100/kg ha could be highly cost-effective in providing the current production from a much smaller area of dunes or in increasing seed production. Other consequences would be to minimize the environmental impact of harvesting and to allow more focused management of the seed resource. If periodic applications of P and K should prove necessary to maintain yield, they would be economically justifiable.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

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