The Nevada Native Seed Forum was held March 28th at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Winnemucca. This was the first seed forum of its kind held in the state of Nevada. The meaning behind this forum was not to debate the merits and legitimacy of limiting native seed for restoration, but rather have representatives from various agencies explain the native seed purchasing process providing the necessary information for future growers interested in farming native seed as a business enterprise.
Two terms are often used when talking about native seed. These are “Native Plant” and “Locally Adapted Plant.” Although, these terms sound similar they have two very different meanings. A Native plant is an indigenous terrestrial or aquatic plant species, which has evolved and occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat. Locally adapted plants are from an area geographically near a planting site where the plant is environmentally adapted and likely to establish and persist. Native plants and Locally adapted plants were the main topic of the forum.
Both native plant and locally adapted plant, if farmed correctly, in an area with good soil can be used for a variety of purposes including post-fire restoration, prevention of wildfires on federal lands, erosion control, greenstrips, stream bank stabilization, water conservation, wetland and riparian restoration, reforestation, wildlife habitat, windbreak and shelterbelts and woodlots.
“The vision for seeding efforts nationwide is planting the right seed at the right place at the right time,” Russell Wihelm, Nevada Department of Agriculture’s seed program manager, said. “The use of native seeds is one more tool in the toolbox of land restoration and rehabilitation in Nevada.”
The success of restoration and rehabilitation activates is largely dependent on successful reseeding efforts. Seeds are not always available when a situation arises. This is especially so when the restoration calls for a large quantity of native seed. Currently the majority of reseeding projects uses imported native seed. This is the reason for the need for greater native seed production in Nevada. Through a greater seed production system in Nevada, some suggest there would be opportunity for Nevada farmers to diversify crops.
In order to sell native seed through established market channels growers must have their seed certified through the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The certification process involves several steps in order to sell fully certified native seed.
The first step requires you to fill out the seed certification application. After, the application is received the Nevada Department of Agriculture comes out to inspect the seed where they collect a sample that will be brought back to the lab for testing.
The testing of the native seed is to determine the purity, germination, weed content, seed identification, moisture content and genetic modification. Lab results dependent you will either be able to sell your certified seed and receive your tag, or your seed will not pass the certification process. For a more in depth explanation about the seed certification program visit http://agri.nv.gov/Resources/Forms/Seed_Cert_Forms/.
The market for native seed fluctuates, depending on market demand. If a recent fire has devastated a certain area native seed will be in high demand, as fire-restoration will take place in the effected area. A possible bonus of being a native seed farmer is the perceived lower cost to farm native seed. This is preempted on the premise that it requires water to get going, but once the seed starts to grow less water is needed, as these plants are sustainable without a continued irrigation.
Getting things started in the State of Nevada the Department of Agriculture went with a stakeholder approach to help develop local strategies moving forward. People in attendance included: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Nevada Davison of Forestry, state partners, potential seed producers, current seed producers, conservation groups and seed buyers. The census moving forward was that more seed forums needed to happen in order to have a better understanding of potential opportunities when it comes to native seed.