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System for Application of Biopolymer for Revegetation of Soil


OBJECTIVE: Develop technology for application of biopolymer (non-petroleum-based compound) for rapid revegetation and soil improvement on active training lands for improved usage and surface water quality, and reduced dust emissions. DESCRIPTION: Military training activities often result in environmental degradation due to creation of heavily disturbed soil areas. These heavily disturbed areas include, but are not limited to, dirt road beds, vehicular training areas, tank trails, training areas for earth moving engineering systems, terrain subject to wildfires, artillery impact areas, helipads and dirt landing areas for aircraft. These areas are currently a challenge in that they are resistant to revegetation efforts. These sites are also susceptible to sediment loss through water erosion and the generation of dust through wind erosion. The traditional revegetation process requires fertilization and application of a moisture retention agent, currently a petroleum-derived polymer. Dust reduction on dirt roads currently requires application of either water retentive and/or a petroleum product. Surface applied fertilization provides temporary vegetative growth and often leads to nutrient transport to surface waters, eutrophication of those waters and regulatory scrutiny. The petrochemical products most often used as soil additives are known to leach carcinogenic monomers and their use is often regulated by environmental entities. The technical challenges that research and development efforts should address are: 1. Specific soil mass loadings based on plant and soil type 2. Biopolymer application methods for optimal performance 3. Delivery techniques including wet or dry introduction of biopolymer to soil or seed coatings amended with the R.T biopolymer. 4. Selection of seed mixtures coordinated with biopolymer for specific climates and land use parameters. This solicitation will address EO 13514, which encourages the use of sustainable practices on all DoD installations and promotes conservation and protection of the water resources of the nation through storm water management and erosion control. In addition, this innovative research will support recommendations set out in AR 200-3 (modified 2000) and PWTB 200-3-30 (2004),"Current Technologies for Erosion Control on Army Training Lands."Innovative techniques for reduction of both water and wind-driven erosion of soil falls under several Federal laws and regulations including the Clean Air Act (1990), Clean Water Act (1972, 1990), Soil and Water Conservation Act (1977), and NEPA (1970). It is expected that successful Small Business Innovative Research will contribute to revisions of the Army"s BMP Technical Bulletin 200-3-30. PHASE I: Design an optimized system and techniques through the development of soil mass loading rates for biopolymer based on climate, soil type and native plant species commonly used for re-vegetation activities of eroded or otherwise degraded soils. These application rates should be high enough to reduce sediment transport in runoff water and fugitive dust emissions across a range of climate and use conditions but low enough to keep the biopolymer commercially competitive with petroleum-based soil stabilization products. Develop preliminary (proof-of-concept) data for innovative methods of biopolymer/seed delivery based on climate, soil type and land use that may include, but are not limited to, hydroseeding, seed coatings for aerial delivery, as well as wet and dry application methods. The success criteria for the concept of biopolymer for erosion control and re-vegetation of degraded lands are: Decreased sediment transport in runoff water Decrease in fugitive dust emissions Rapid establishment of planted species compared to controls as measured by above ground biomass and soil coverage Increased rate of germination for seeds in the biopolymer-treated soil versus seeds in an untreated control soil Increased drought tolerance for seeds in the biopolymer-treated soil versus seeds in an untreated control soil Increased root mass for plants in the biopolymer-treated soil versus plants in an untreated control soil PHASE II: Based on the results of the preliminary testing and the application design schemes (Phase I), perform a pilot-scale test for application and evaluation of biopolymer for rapid re-vegetation of heavily disturbed soils in areas where soil disturbances are contributing to loss of topsoil, excessive fugitive dust emissions, and/or reduced habitat or soil viability. The success criteria for the pilot-scale evaluation are: 75% reduction of total suspended solids in runoff water from the biopolymer-treated area versus an untreated control area 50% reduction of fugitive dust emissions from the biopolymer-treated area versus an untreated control area 50% increase in viable habitat for indigenous species versus a control area Increase in soil quality indicators such as soil nitrogen content as a result of the growth of multiple crops of nitrogen fixating legumes, organic carbon, soilorganic matter. A technical report will be provided that documents the optimized system and techniques for the application of a biopolymer formulation for the revegetation of disturbed soil areas, preliminary data for application of the biopolymer using candidate climate specific plant species commonly used for revegetation, design schemes for field application, and results of preliminary laboratory tests that address the Phase I and Phase II success criteria. PHASE III: Develop a commercial system for application of the biopolymer to areas of heavily disturbed soil that can be used throughout the Army and DoD. Based on the results of Phases I and II, perform one or more field demonstrations on an active or closed U.S. Army facility using the commercial system for biopolymer application. Other commercial applications could be found in the construction or agriculture industries. Completion of multiple soil amendment procedures in varied climates and soil types representing a range of Army facilities. Publication of guidance documents detailing specific approaches for the use of biopolymer soil additives for revegetation of disturbed soils Design and commercialization of a biopolymer production system for efficient production of biopolymer soil amendments Design, production and commercialization of specialized soil amendment systems for efficient introduction of biopolymer for re-vegetation.
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