August 15, 2022

Joint research to help seeds thrive in revegetation

Alcoa plantingIn a move that could improve landscape revegetation around the world, our scientists are joining forces with some of the best biodiversity minds in Western Australia to further develop precision technology to treat and sow seed mixes so they have the best chance of thriving.

We have contributed almost $500,000 in a collaborative effort with the Cooperative Research Centre for Transformation in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (Kings Park Science) for the Australian Seed Scaling Initiative (ASSI).

Already trialled in iron ore mining areas in the Pilbara, the project will apply precision-seeding technologies to our bauxite mining operations in south-western WA.

Alcoa’s Biodiversity Director Dr Andrew Grigg said the project had enormous potential to improve the efficiency of restoration efforts, increasing the establishment success of some seeded species by as much as 40 per cent.

“Managing our mining footprint and establishing high-quality rehabilitation are key aspects in Alcoa’s pursuit of zero net loss in biodiversity for new mines or major extensions,” Dr Grigg said.

“We know some plant species in the jarrah forest are difficult to germinate without special seed treatments, so this research will explore ways to achieve this on a large scale.

“For more than 50 years, research and innovation have been critical to the success of our rehabilitation program and this partnership is a significant step in our ongoing journey to restore a healthy and resilient jarrah forest in south-western WA.”

Run over multiple years and seasons, the 10 to 50 hectare trials will evaluate aspects such as how to achieve optimal sowing depths for a range of jarrah forest species, seed enhancement technologies, seeding rates and mix of seeds and integrity of seedbed preparation and erosion control.

Technologies that improve seed performance have global implications across a range of commodities, companies and environmental contexts outside of mining.

Findings will be shared through peer-reviewed publications, demonstration days, workshops, conferences and annual project reports.

With a total cost of $3 million, the ASSI is expected to run for 3.5 years.