Direct seeding to restore tropical seasonal forests: effects of green manure and hydrogel amendment on tree species performances and weed infestation
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Although direct tree seeding may be a potentially useful restoration practice, many biotic and abiotic barriers prevent seedling emergence and early development, reducing its success and applicability. To overcome these barriers, we undertook a field experiment to test the effects of using green manure and hydrogel alone, or in combination, on seedling performances of 14 native tree species that were planted by direct seeding in a deforested tropical seasonal forest area in southern Brazil and to examine how green manure affected the initial weed coverage in the study plots. We evaluated competing vegetation coverage and tree seedling emergence and early development for 2 years after sowing. Weed infestation was significantly higher in the experimental plots with no green manure; however, neither green manure nor hydrogel improved tree seedling emergence and early development at any time of measurement. Our results suggest that the use of green manure and hydrogel alone, or in combination, were not effective in guaranteeing direct seeding success; however, green manure can be an effective method to reduce weed infestation. Direct seeding techniques for tree species still need to be improved in order to restore tropical seasonal forests on a larger scale.