Making the most of seeds in mine site restoration

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Simone Pedrini

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Seeds are a key component for the successful restoration of landscapes degraded by mining operations. The collection and production of seeds of the appropriate origin, in the quantity and diversity needed to achieve a satisfactory degree of recovery, are onerous tasks that require careful planning and a significant budget.  However, once seeds are obtained, at an average cost of 750 $/kg, sub-standard storing and processing practices can drastically reduce the viability (and value) of the collections. The adoption of practices, standards, and technologies used in the agriculture seed industry and conservation seed banks can help obtain high quality seeds and maintain viability through the seed supply chain. This would improve chances of seed germinating; however, numerous impediments of post-mining restoration scenarios, such as unsuitable substrates and abiotic stresses, still limit seedling emergence and successful plant establishment. Seed coating could help overcome some of these logistical and ecological barriers. Seed coating is a technology developed in the agricultural sector that is used to modify the shape and size of the seed and deliver active ingredients that provide protection from predators and pathogens, stress resistance, enhance growth, and improve survival. A recent study showed that seed coating with salicylic acid improved the survival of three Australian grass species, during the dry summer months. Ongoing research is testing the effect of germination promoters and beneficial microbes, delivered via seed coating, in order to promote plant establishment and, ultimately, improve mine site restoration outcomes.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration