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Monday - February 22, 2010

From: Americus, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replenishing a fallow field in Central Geogia.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have recently taken a 54 acre field out of cultivation and would like to replenish the soil with native cover plants. There is a slope to a portion of the field that is experiencing some erosion. I would like to stabalize the soil in that area as well. It is located in Central Georgia and gets full sun on sandy soil.


As you indicated, there are two issues to address: soil retention and soil improvement.  For the areas most susceptible to erosion, native grasses will do the best job of holding the soil and preventing loss during times of heavy rain.  The parts of your field less susceptible to erosion loss can be planted with fewer grasses and more nitrogen-fixing legumes, though a mix of both should be planted in all areas. 

Some useful native grasses are: Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem), Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) and Panicum virgatum (switchgrass).

Some native legumes that will fix nitrogen in your soil are Chamaecrista nictitans (sensitive partridge pea)Chamaecrista fasciculata (partridge pea), Desmodium spp.,  Galactia spp., Lespedeza spp., Stylosanthes biflora (sidebeak pencilflower), Tephrosia spp., and Pediomelum canescens (buckroot).

Although we do not recommend non-native species, a grass and a legume often used for soil retention and improvement are Annual ryegrass, Lolium perenne ssp. multiflorum and Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum.

Your county Cooperative Extension Service agent should also be able to give you some valuable advice on soil conseration in your area.


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