Seed use in the field: delivering seeds for restoration success
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© 2020 The Authors. Restoration Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Ecological Restoration
Seed delivery to site is a critical step in seed-based restoration programs. Months or years of seed collection, conditioning, storage, and cultivation can be wasted if seeding operations are not carefully planned, well executed, and draw upon best available knowledge and experience. Although diverse restoration scenarios present different challenges and require different approaches, there are common elements that apply to most ecosystems and regions. A seeding plan sets the timeline and details all operations from site treatments through seed delivery and subsequent monitoring. The plan draws on site evaluation data (e.g. topography, hydrology, climate, soil types, weed pressure, reference site characteristics), the ecology and biology of the seed mix components (e.g. germination requirements, seed morphology) and seed quality information (e.g. seed purity, viability, and dormancy). Plan elements include: (1) Site treatments and seedbed preparation to remove undesirable vegetation, including sources in the soil seed bank; change hydrology and soil properties (e.g. stability, water holding capacity, nutrient status); and create favorable conditions for seed germination and establishment. (2) Seeding requirements to prepare seeds for sowing and determine appropriate seeding dates and rates. (3) Seed delivery techniques and equipment for precision seed delivery, including placement of seeds in germination-promotive microsites at the optimal season for germination and establishment. (4) A monitoring program and adaptive management to document initial emergence, seedling establishment, and plant community development and conduct additional sowing or adaptive management interventions, if warranted. (5) Communication of results to inform future seeding decisions and share knowledge for seed-based ecological restoration.
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