A word from the RALF (March 2023)
Native seeds play a crucial role in preserving the biodiversity and ecological balance of our planet. They are vital for restoring degraded landscapes, improving soil fertility and providing habitat for wildlife. However, the process of collecting, cleaning, propagating and planting native seeds is often misunderstood or overlooked. This is where Landcare workshops come in to play, educating people about the importance of native seeds and providing hands-on training on seed collection, cleaning, propagation, direct seeding, and planting seedlings.
Collection: Seed collection is the first step in the native seed process. It involves harvesting mature seeds from plants in their natural environment. It’s important to collect seeds from healthy plants that are adapted to the local environment to ensure their success in future plantings.
Cleaning: Once the seeds are collected, they need to be cleaned to remove any debris, such as leaves, twigs or insects. Cleaning the seeds involves removing any excess material that could hinder their growth or introduce disease. This can be done by hand or using specialised equipment such as sieves. After cleaning, the seeds can be stored in a cool, dry place until they are ready for propagation.
Propagation: This is the process of growing new plants from seeds or cuttings. There are several methods of propagation, including seedling propagation, direct seeding and vegetative propagation. Seedling propagation involves starting seeds in trays or pots and transplanting them when they are big enough to survive in the wild. Direct seeding involves sowing seeds directly into the soil, while vegetative propagation involves taking cuttings or dividing existing plants.
Planting: Planting seedlings is an effective way to establish native plants quickly. It involves transplanting young seedlings into the ground, ensuring they are planted at the appropriate depth and given enough water and nutrients to survive. Direct seeding is another effective method for establishing native plants, especially for large-scale restoration projects. It involves sowing seeds directly into the soil, usually in autumn or early winter, when the soil is moist and temperatures are cool.
Landcare workshops are becoming increasingly popular in the Riverina, providing hands-on training on seed collection, cleaning, propagation, direct seeding and planting seedlings. These workshops educate people about the importance of native seeds and their role in restoring degraded landscapes. They also provide an opportunity for people to learn new skills, meet like-minded individuals and contribute to their local community.
The benefits of Landcare workshops and the use of native seeds are numerous. Native plants are adapted to the local environment and require less water, fertilizer and maintenance than non-native plants. They also provide habitat for wildlife, improve soil fertility and help control erosion. Using native seeds in restoration projects can also help preserve local genetic diversity and prevent the spread of invasive species.
This article was written by Jade Auldist. Jade is the Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) for the Riverina region. Her role supports farmers, industry and community groups (including Landcare Groups) to adopt new and innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
For further information on this article, please contact Jade at firstname.lastname@example.org.