Theme leader: Adam Cross
Research Supervision: Dr David Merritt, Dr Jason Stevens and Prof Kingsley Dixon
Objectives: Develop researcher capacity to increase the reliable supply of high quality seeds and develop technologies to deliver robust and high vigour seeds to restoration sites.
Outcomes: (1) Seed quality control, germination, and storage standards and technologies established; (2) A managed, reliable, and cost-effective seed supply chain principle established including the development of seed production farming for species in high demand; (3) Species- and region-specific seed enhancement technologies for wild species to increase seed germination performance and seedling establishment, coupled with precision seed delivery systems suitable for broad-acre restoration of diverse species mixes.
In ecosystems where the severity of disturbance precludes autogenic recovery, targeting seeding with a diverse mix of native species is the only means of restoring ecosystem. But targeted seeding isn’t only enough to achieve an ideal restored ecosystem as, effective ecological restoration requires the return of not only plant biodiversity, but also ecosystem function, and both of these factors are reliant upon a functioning soil microbiome. Seed pelleting is one such technology that can provide a one stop solution to the seed based restoration industry through the concept of Multi-Seed Pelleting. PhD candidate Khiraj Bhalsing is working on developing an efficient native seed delivering technology which will allow the incorporation of not just seeds but also germination and plant growth enhancers, stress limiting compounds and anti-predation compounds while providing a means for standardizing seed shape and size for the highly variable native seed batches.
By Michael Just
Mining has a significant impact on the Australian environment and numerous barriers to the successful restoration of impacted areas exist. Seed is often cited as the best source material for producing high level restoration outcomes however, the development of seeds and the interactions between maternal conditions, dormancy and germination are poorly understood for a range of ecologically significant species in Western Australia. PhD student Michael Just is undertaking research to determine how maternal conditions affect the collection and usefulness of native Rutaceae in order to optimize germination protocols and increase their presence in restoration.
Many restoration projects attempted in Australia have been rarely cost-effective on a broad scale. For example, many projects rely on planting seedlings and despite showing good results, their employment on a large scale is not affordable. Direct seeding, in theory, may be a more cost-effective alternative, but so far, its success rate has been low (<1-5%) and the use of advanced seed enhancement technologies (SET) limited. Despite SET’s being developed in agriculture/horticulture to improve seed performances, they have not been rigorously transferred into the restoration industry. Their customization on native species could potentially enhance seed germination and recruitment and therefore significantly increase seed-based restoration effectiveness.