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Todd E. Erickson, Monte Masarei, Andrew L. Guzzomi, Elvan Ling, Matthew D. Madsen, Jeremy J. James, Scott R. Abella, Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, David J Merritt
The mining industry in Australia’s biodiverse, arid north-west is required to rehabilitate disturbed land with native ecosystems that are comparable to pre-disturbed conditions. Due to relatively high plant density targets, and the scale of this task (e.g. > 3,000 km2 ), the planting of tubestock is uneconomical and not favoured by the industry. Therefore, significant effort has been placed on developing approaches and technologies that improve plant establishment via direct seeding. Recruitment bottlenecks at the germination-emergence phase, however, often hinders seed-based rehabilitation programs in this region. Difficult-to-alleviate seed dormancy mechanisms and restricted emergence potential when seeds are sown in highly altered, rocky soil profiles have been frequently encountered. These seed-use shortfalls are further confounded by a range of seeds that possess poor flow properties (e.g. densely haired seeds) which impede or block conventional direct seeding machinery. In this presentation, we will discuss some of our biological, technological, and precision-engineered seeding solutions that have been developed over the past decade to overcome these seed-use shortfalls. Most recently, we have improved the flow properties of problematic native seeds via flash flaming applications (i.e. rapid exposure of seeds to flames to remove unwanted hairs), applied species-specific seed enhancement treatments (e.g. application of smoke cues through hydropriming), and precision sown these seeds using custom-built machinery designed to deal with rocky soil profiles. Combined, we have increased seedling emergence potential for many of species from less than 5% to over 40%. These techniques show promise for scalability across mined land in Australia and across the globe
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program