The Aberdeen Plant Materials Center uses a “pop test” to get an approximation of seed viability during the seed cleaning process by sprinkling a small number of seeds on a hot plate and counting the number that pop. If the percentage of popped seed is high enough, usually above 90%, we know the cleaning system is doing a good job of removing empty or shriveled seed. If the popped percentage is low, we can adjust the air-flow and remove more light seed.
Picture Colorado. What comes to mind? For most people, it’s the soaring, majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains. However, the alpine ecosystem constitutes just one of Colorado’s six major vegetation zones. The state’s rich floral diversity is distributed throughout multiple systems, including shortgrass steppe, shrub steppe, pinon-juniper woodland, montane forest, subalpine forest, and alpine. Of Colorado’s 2,797 native plant species, 525 (16%) are rare, and 90 (2.6%) are rare endemics (see all rare Colorado species here). All of these taxa are at risk of decline as a result of multiple, interacting factors.
In Europe, grasslands are counted among the most species-rich vegetation types but also the most extensively degraded and least protected habitats. The role played by the native seed production sector is therefore crucial in providing native seed for grassland restoration
The native seed industry for herbaceous plants in Europe is a relatively young sector, with the oldest companies having about 35 years of experience. This sector has also a very uneven level of development across the continent.
On September 2017, the final conference of the NASSTEC (Native Seed Science, Technology and Conservation) Initial Training Network, was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK). NASSTEC main objectives were to train a new generation of native seed specialists in Europe and to better connect European native seed stakeholders in order to improve the native seed supply and the success in grassland restoration.
The program is based at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where students work alongside researchers and college-age mentors (who are part of Garden’s National Science Foundation’s funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program). Working with their mentors, students help to address important challenges in plant conservation and restoration. The goal of the program is to increase diversity in STEM fields, with an emphasis on a university education as a means of creating and achieving career aspirations for students, many whom are often the first in their families to attend college. The students are responsible for developing and carrying out an independent project to get hands-on experience conducting plant-based research. Experiences like these are unique and spark a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world, a sentiment which can sometimes seem distant in a large metropolitan area like Chicago.
Botanic gardens play a leading role in the conservation of rare and threatened plant species around the world. Increasingly they are active in ecological restoration. Scaling up the use of seed banking facilities and the horticultural skills of botanic gardens should help to address the global shortage of native seed for ecological restoration
Mining companies have few choices. They can purchase seed from a limited number of species that are sourced from far away (>1000 km west or south). They can collect seed themselves from local wild populations. Or, they can encourage people from local communities to collect and sell native seed. Collecting seeds locally, or within seed zones and from a comparable habitat (i.e., moisture regime, soil type) poses the lowest ecological risk and leads to better survival of plantings over the long term. Mine restoration planners are unlikely to possess the local knowledge needed to find and collect desired seed. In contrast, local people may be familiar with plant abundances and their regional phenology, although they may require some training on sustainable collection practices and seed cleaning procedures. For both ecological and economic reasons, local seed collection by nearby communities should be encouraged for the restoration of current and future developments in the region.
Our research focused on the developing simple protocols that use accessible and inexpensive equipment for seed collection and processing. We have published our general protocols online along with species-specific protocols for collecting, cleaning, storing and propagating 60 species which may be useful for the rehabilitation of mined lands.
The Xingu Seeds Network involves 30 organisations and 450 seed collector groups in 19 municipalities of the Xingu’s watershed in the Brazilian Amazon. These groups encompass 14 rural settlements, one extractive reserve, and 6 indigenous ethnicities of the 4 indigenous lands and 11 villages. Moreover, there is a management office based in Canarana city (Mato Groso State) and 4 seed storage houses. Over one decade, this network has facilitated the production of a substantial volume of seeds (175 tonnes) and generated about 750 thousand US dollars for 450 households.
The native seed community, was very well represented during the INSR’s first full day symposium: Seed Based Restoration: Innovations, Opportunities and Challenges. Seventeen delegates from the US, Brazil, Mexico, China, Germany, Australia, Spain, Scotland and Italy presented their global experiences on topics from seed collection and treatment, all the way to application of seed technology and seeding.
The symposium was a resounding success and introduced the INSR to scientists and practitioners, especially those from Latin America, who interacted with the network for the first time.
The Falkland Islands comprise of two main islands and over 700 smaller islands: our total area is 4,700 square miles - around the size of Connecticut in the USA. Our population is 3,500 people, three quarters live in the capital, Stanley and the gnarly remainder live in small settlements and isolated farms. We farm cattle and sheep: extensive sheep farming dominates with over half a million sheep at last count.