The 2018 SER Australasia conference took place in Brisbane at the University of Queensland. INSR was greatly represented at this event with a large number of members and a session titled:

Native seed for restoration, challenges and opportunities

Recording of the session are visible in the webinair page.

Session description: Seeds are an adaptation to survive unfavorable conditions and to disperse in space and in time, thus playing a key part in the assembly and regeneration of existing and future plant communities. Seed-based restoration harnesses the practicality and diversity of these attributes to revegetate, enrich, or conserve plant communities. This is especially true and important as restoration sites worldwide are increasingly altered and degraded by extreme wildfires, invasive species, fragmentation, mining and climate change. For these situations, seed-addition is essential along with management to achieve restoration goals. The native seed sector has advanced in recent decades, however, there are many challenges and opportunities associated with the use of native plant seeds in restoration. This symposium covers best-practices and current research relevant to obtaining seeds for restoration including seed needs assessment, seed sourcing, seed procurement models, seed collection, seed technology, seed innovations, and seeding and deployment.

Introduction: The international network for seed based restoration

Speaker: Kingsley Dixon


Affiliation: Curtin University – ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration

Abstract (300 words): As the speakers in this symposium will highlight, there is a growing gap between restoration need and the ability through provision of plant materials to achieve the scale of restoration hoped for and indeed, promised. Whether it is the Bonn Challenge or more modest 'backyard' restoration, seed sits at the heart of providing the foundational restorative materials. Three major issues sit at the heart of the seed-based capability to deliver effective restoration - sourcing seed at the tonnages required; ensuring seed is stored and managed to ensure effective germinative capacity and, deployment to site ensures seed wastage is minimised. These three core areas are the backbone of moving forward with seed-based restoration. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR), the only seed-dedicated restoration organisation and a Section of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) International is committed to linking seed producers and seed users for more effective global outcomes. Ecological restoration is now a partner in delivering conservation and enhancement of biodiversity with effective seed use being critical to ensuring on-going growth and success in delivering a greener more biodiverse world.

Status of the Australian native seed sector: results of a nationwide survey

Speaker: Paul Gibson Roy


Affiliation: Greening Australia

Abstract (300 words): For many years, there have been concerns raised within the native seed sector of the need for change from one that is essentially a disparate, poorly supported or capitalised cottage-industry to a forward-focussed, structurally sound and cohesive restoration-supporting industry – a transition that is required if it is to meet the many challenges facing ecological restoration in Australia. But there have been many more unknowns than there are knowns about the native seed sector and providing solutions to its many challenges has always been hampered by a lack of quantifiable data. For this reason, a survey on the status of the Australian native seed sector was instigated by the Australian Network for Plant Conservation. It was conducted between October 2016 and April 2017 with parties from all states and territories contributing (including seed collectors, growers/sellers/suppliers, purchasers/distributors, researchers). The survey aimed to provide base data on a range of seed-related subjects including seed collection and handling practices, seed end-use and seed business structure and models. The survey also tested common perceptions on a range of sector-related topics to gauge opinions and gather feedback from those working in the sector. The survey provided an important snapshot of the status of the Australian native seed sector and furthers knowledge on its structure and its capacity to meet current and future seed demand for ecological restoration. This presentation will give an overview of survey findings and discuss implications for the broader restoration sector.

Optimisation of seed coating technology to native grasses.

Speaker: Simone Pedrini


Affiliation: Curtin University – ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration

Abstract (300 words): Grasslands across the globe are undergoing constant degradation due to climate change and human impacts. If restoration of degraded native grassland is to be achieved at the scale now required, cost effective means for seed-based establishment of grass species is crucial. However, grass seeds present numerous challenges associated with handling and germination performance that must be overcome to improve the efficiency of seeding. Seed coating technology, allowing for increase of seed size and weight, and providing active ingredients for seed protection and enhancement, could improve grassland restoration efficacy. However the presence of floret on grass seed could render the seed coating process unfeasible. Here we present an optimised procedure for complete floret removal on four Australia grass species (Austrostipa scabra, Chloris truncata, Microlaena stipoides var. Griffin and Rytidosperma genicula var. Oxley), followed by evaluation of seed coating on cleaned caryopses on three of those grass species. The results show that floret removal on its own improves germination performance. Seed coating, although not providing increase in germination and emergence, when loaded with the stress-resistant inducing compound Salicylic acid, improve plant survival and growth.

A Protocol Development Tool for native seed coating

Speaker: Khiraj Bhalsing


Affiliation: Curtin University – ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration

Abstract (300 words): Introduction: Here we present an open access, reproducible, and customisable Protocol Development Tool (PDT) for the native seed industry to test and develop seed coating procedures tailored to species- and site-specific needs.Method: Seed coating, either encrusting or pelleting, requires at least two types of materials, fillers (inert powder material) and binders. The seed coating process is divided into six phases, described in attached table along with equipment's required. Abstract: Seed technologies are widely used to improve horticultural and agricultural crop production but are rarely deployed in native seed restoration. Most agricultural and horticultural seeds currently available are coated, with global markets for coating and pelleting seed products worth over $1B annually. Despite the significance of seed coating technologies in the seed industry, most methodology and protocols remain commercial in-confidence of a handful of transnational seed companies. Thus it is difficult to evaluate and adopt the technologies from the commercial agricultural sector to the native seed industry which supports an $18 billion /year restoration sector. For small seed producers, particularly the emerging native seed sector, seed enhancement technologies are either unavailable or rarely adopted due to their inaccessibility. Here we present the first fully disclosed Protocol Development Tool (PDT) for seed pelleting and encrusting. The PDT is customisable, applicable to a wide range of commercial crop and native seeds and represents a variety of coating materials. The PDT will allow researchers and seed suppliers to test and develop project-specific pelleting and encrusting methods within a standardised and replicable framework that will enable incorporation of germination and plant growth enhancers, stress limiting compounds, anti-predation compounds while providing a means for standardising seed shape and size for the highly variable native seed batches. Such approaches are critical if seed use efficiencies and precision seeding technologies are to deliver large scale restoration outcomes.

Resolving dormancy in difficult-to-germinate Australian Ericaceae

Speaker: Michael Just


Affiliation: Edith Cowan University - Curtin University – ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration

Abstract (300 words): The Ericaceae in Southwest Australia contains species with difficult to germinate seeds, including many species with deep intractable dormancy. An improved understanding of seed biology and species-specific dormancy and germination mechanisms is required to overcome these difficulties. Land clearing, salinity and disease has resulted in over 125 species within 15 genera being listed as rare, highly restricted, threatened and endangered (Western Australian Herbarium 1998–). The present study examined the seed biology of eight species of Ericaceae native to Western Australia, exploring fruit and seed morphology, dormancy and germination. Cold and warm stratification were used in combination with gibberellic acid to classify dormancy. Between the two distinct fruit types that occur within the Ericaceae separate patterns of dormancy were identified. Seeds held within a dehiscent capsule were found to possess non-deep and intermediate physiological dormancy whilst those within an indehiscent drupe possessed morphophysiological dormancy. Oxygen enriched atmospheres and the removal of seeds from endocarps provide potential avenues for the propagation of study species.