Maud Walsh, Swoope, Elizabeth A.
The most recent United States Geological Survey report of land loss found that Louisiana loses an area of land the size of a football field every hour. This is the highest erosion rate of any state in the continental United States. These figures demonstrate the urgent need to improve coastal restoration technologies.
The LSU AgCenter’s Coastal Plants Program is developing improved native plant varieties, production methods, and delivery systems and technologies to advance plant restoration technology. Incorporation of numerous improved varieties is essential to mimic natural plant populations. Efficient and economical plant production methods are needed to enable large-scale production of native plants needed for coastal restoration. Improved delivery systems and technology will allow large-scale planting of coastal wetlands with minimal effort and cost.
Engineering technology for restoring coastal Louisiana has made significant advancements in the past 30 years, while plant technology has not. Many restored sites rely on natural establishment of vegetation despite evidence that restored sites in Louisiana can erode before plants naturally establish.
To advance plant technologies for coastal restoration, the LSU AgCenter developed the Coastal Plants Program in 1998. This program includes a multi-disciplinary team of plant breeders, geneticists, plant biotechnologists, molecular biologists, soil scientists, seed biologists, plant pathologists, weed scientists, wetland ecologists and agricultural engineers. It partnered with federal, state and nonprofit agencies and wetland-plant producers to develop innovative plant remediation and restoration techniques that mimic natural wetlands better than current practices.
The main focus of the Coastal Plants Program is to use traditional plant breeding and agricultural biotechnology techniques to develop improved native plant varieties for coastal restoration. It has expanded in recent years to investigate production practices and delivery systems. Large-scale production that maximizes yields of native plants is needed to economically supply material for restoration projects. Improved delivery systems, such as aerial seeding applications, will allow the economical completion of large-scale plantings. Delivery technologies that improve seed properties, such as seed coatings that enhance seed germination, seedling survival and planting precision, are essential to the success and efficiency of seeded material in harsh wetland environments.
The LSU AgCenter’s Coastal Plants Program is the only program in the nation developing improved plant varieties for coastal wetland restoration and is on the forefront of plant restoration technologies.
Sea Oats (December 2012)
California Bulrush (January 2013)