Working with the mine rehabilitation industry to develop large-scale seed enhancement technologies and restoration solutions

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Todd Erickson

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Depending on the level of impact and degree of active intervention, degraded ecosystems may recover to pre-disturbance conditions by achieving representative levels of species diversity, structure, and cover metrics. However, sites that have experienced longer-term, higher-impact disturbances, such as mined lands, may not be able to return to their pre-disturbance state without significant economic, biological, and technological inputs. Achieving successful plant establishment for a wide range of species requires the development of techniques to overcome various biotic, abiotic, and dispersal filters. Seed enhancement technologies that include precision flash flaming, hydro- and osmo-priming, polymer-based seed coating, and extruded seed pelleting are one approach that has gained recent attention in dryland restoration. For instance, combined with optimised dormancy break treatments, hydro-priming and applying a polymer seed coat to seeds of Triodia pungens (dominant Australian desert grass) increased seedling emergence to ca. 35-40%. This represents a 4-fold increase in global seedling recruitment averages. To apply seed enhancement technologies at scale, however, we are faced with the difficulty of transferring these findings to large-scale operations. It is with this complexity that we introduce and discuss several knowledge gaps and emerging biological, technological, and precision-engineering solutions that have been developed between a diverse team of researchers to increase the overall species pool available for use in restoration programs. We use examples from seed-based dryland research in Australia and the United States of America. This evidence-base represents a solid example for how multi-disciplinary rehabilitation programs can offer (seed- and engineering-based) solutions to the global restoration challenge.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration