Wild native seed collection is important for restoration projects, but large, frequent collections can be expensive due to the time and travel required to collect native species that are locally adapted to their restoration site, therefore federal agencies have been trialing seed grow-out fields in partnerships with different organizations, agencies, and private businesses throughout the United States. This entails collecting seed from a specific area (i.e. National Park, or Forest) and either direct seeding or transplanting plugs of that seed source into a field for agricultural production. Travis Gerckens, BRN’s farm, horticulture, and maintenance technician has designed and been managing ¾ of an acre of farmland by hand and planting plugs of native plants into weed cloth for seed production of each contracted species. Through IAE, BRN is producing a ¼ acre of Bothriochloa barbinodis, and a totaled ¼ acre of Macharanthera tanacetifolia and Sporobolus cryptandrus all sourced from Tonto Forest.
BRN is also starting a grow-out in partnership with Petrified Forest National Park of Bouteloua gracilis, Dalea candida, and Spharalcea sp. These plants were all grown out from seed in our nursery, except for the Bothriochloa barbinodis which was transported from a previous field in northern Arizona by IAE staff. Once the plants are mature, seed will be collected every year, curated in our seed lab, and sent to their restoration locations of the Tonto Forest and Petrified Forest National Park.