State of the research: Using activated carbon in herbicide protection pods to simultaneously reseed desirable species and treat invasive annual weeds

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Owen Baughman

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Restoration of desirable plants can be challenging in dryland settings, and the challenge is compounded when competing exotic species are present. Pre-emergent herbicides are frequently used to reduce competition from exotic annual plants prior to seed-based restoration. After application, reseeding desirable species usually must wait up to a year or more until herbicide toxicity has waned, and this herbicide-fallow period necessitates additional site visits to reseed. Also, if rapid annual reinvasion occurs, there may be little benefit from herbicide application. Herbicide protection pod (HPP) technology allows for simultaneous seeding and herbicide application by protecting desirable seeds inside pods or pellets containing activated carbon, thereby eliminating herbicide-fallow periods and allowing for single-entry restoration approaches. This technology has shown promise in multiple laboratory and field experiments to date, but many important questions remain and are under investigation. We present a review of the technology, then summarize recent results and ongoing research with emphasis on 1) optimizing HPP efficacy via modifying size and formulation, 2) comparing different delivery methods, and 3) scaling up production. Optimal HPP formulation and geometry depends on seed size and species, and refinement can decrease cost and improve efficiency. Traditional seed-delivery systems may need modification to ensure maximum performance of this technology. Industrial mass-production will be crucial to scaling up but presents challenges in maintaining product quality. We highlight additional opportunities and challenges and propose goals and priorities for ongoing research of this developing technology, which could prove to be transformative for restoration of invaded drylands.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration