SBIR Phase I: Spray-on Biological Soil Crusts for Arid Land Restoration
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I research project will develop a process for spraying site sourced biological soil crusts (BSC) inoculants onto degraded arid lands in order to facilitate more efficient restoration. Environmental degradation due to energy exploration, environmental disturbances (e.g. fire), and various land use practices (e.g. grazing) have created conditions in the arid west region of the United States that are increasingly difficult and exceedingly costly to restore with any permanence. To avoid ecosystem collapse and desertification, federal regulatory agencies and private industry are willing and obligated to restore these degraded lands. Despite their critical ecological role in arid ecosystems, there are no available methods or products for efficiently and affordably inoculating BSC onto disturbed lands. To gauge the feasibility of spray-on inoculant delivery, ecotype specific BSC organisms will be isolated, ex situ culture of BSC organisms will be optimized, and the restoration potential of inoculants will be tested under field-like conditions. In the West, the need for a sustainable one time application of a product that promotes native diversity while achieving soil stabilization and weed abatement are of immediate concern. Over the course of the next decade, 100,000 oil and gas wells are slated for construction on public lands across western states, of which 51,000 will be drilled in Wyoming. Invasion of annual weeds and non-native perennial grasses such as cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass have severely altered western fire regimes. Consequently millions of
acres burn each year. Unfortunately, current technology is not able to effectively restore these damaged lands. California recently experienced some of the most costly fires on record. In Wyoming, the energy industry will spend $300 million to reclaim wells over the next 10 years. Similar sums will be spent in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. In 2007, the western states BLM will purchase 1.4 million pounds of seed for restoration at an estimated cost of $50 million. Spray-on BSC has great potential to meet the western U.S. restoration market's demand for improved restoration technology.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Conservation Seeding and Restoration, Inc.
506 Center Street West Kimberly, ID 83341
Number of Employees: