Seed enhancement: getting seeds restoration-ready
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© 2020 The Authors. Restoration Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Ecological Restoration
Seed enhancement technologies such as seed priming and seed coating, developed by the agricultural seed industry, are standard procedures for the majority of crop and horticultural seeds. However, such technologies are only just being evaluated for native plant seeds despite the potential benefits of such treatments for improving restoration effectiveness. Key approaches applicable to native seed include: (1) seed priming, where seeds are hydrated under controlled conditions, and (2) seed coating, in which external materials and compounds are applied onto seeds through a diversity of treatments. These technologies are commonly employed to accelerate and synchronize germination and to improve seed vigor, seedling emergence, establishment, and to facilitate mechanized seed delivery to site, through standardizing seed size and shape. Seed enhancement technologies have now been tested on native seeds to overcome logistical and ecological barriers in restoration. However, further research is needed to extend the application of seed enhancements to a broader array of species, ecosystems, and regions as well as to evaluate new and innovative approaches such as the incorporation of beneficial soil microorganisms and plant growth regulators in the coatings. As techniques in native seed enhancement develop, these approaches need to be capable of being scaled-up to provide the tonnages of seed required for global restoration.
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