New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2007) 31(2): 143- 153

Potential of direct seeding for establishing native plants into pastoral land in New Zealand

Review Article
Grant B. Douglas 1*
Mike B. Dodd 2
Ian L. Power 2
  1. AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. AgResearch, Ruakura Research Centre, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Native plants are an important part of New Zealand’s uniqueness, and there is increasing awareness of the need to maintain these species in managed landscapes, particularly pastoral areas, in addition to the country’s conservation lands. The most widely used method of establishing native plants is transplanting nursery-grown seedlings, and for many species, much experience and knowledge has been gained in using this technique. Establishment of native plants in the field by direct seeding is a potentially useful alternative technique-which has been evaluated in the North and South Islands only to a limited extent. This paper reviews the current state of knowledge on the direct seeding of species into pastoral areas. It covers site and species selection, seed availability and quality, site preparation, and post-sowing management. It also compares the economics of native plant establishment by transplanting and by direct seeding. Direct seeding of pastoral areas is a relatively cheap technique, but its general applicability is currently limited because of frequently inadequate supplies of viable seed, lack of knowledge on appropriate sowing times and rates, unreliable field germination and seedling emergence, and frequent intense competition from existing vegetation, particularly exotic grasses.