Introduction: The Sonoran desert shows degradation, risk of desertification and loss of biodiversity. A typical plant of the area is the Mexican ironwood (Olneya tesota), with ecological, economic and social importance.
Objectives: To evaluate germination, survival and growth of Mexican ironwood seeds sown in degraded soil, conserved soil, agricultural soil and nursery in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
Methodology: Annual experiments were carried out from 2017 to 2019, with 1450 Mexican ironwood seeds sown directly in degraded and conserved arid soils, and in soil patches (bare, with grasses, under tree, in accumulation zones and with herbivory protections). The experiment was conducted under controlled conditions of humidity, nursery and irrigated agricultural soil.
Results: Seed germination was 0 to 20 % in degraded soils, with zero annual survival. The application of irrigation and herbivory protection led higher germination (16 to 78 %) and annual survival (0 to 50 %). Annual survival in patches of conserved soil ranged from 0 to 30. The highest germination (84 %), annual survival (74 %) and annual growth (84.7 cm) were observed in agricultural soil and drip irrigation.
Limitations of the study: The results correspond to three years of evaluations.
Originality: There are no detailed studies on the limitations of establishing ironwood plants.
Conclusions: Netting protection increases germination, survival and height of ironwood plants in degraded soils. It is possible to initiate ironwood forest plantations on agricultural land with drip irrigation.