The need to grow more trees is globally recognised but germination rates are often poor, particularly where seed is applied directly to the ground in new forest projects and in bareroot forest nurseries where seedlings are vulnerable to water shortage. SilviBio has developed a seed coating for conifers, the most economically important species, that improves germination by 40 per cent where there is drought stress.
SilviBio’s innovative bio-formulation creates a survival capsule for the seedling, providing a water source and slow release nutrition. It also creates a favourable environment for the growth of beneficial microorganisms.
The company has gained the support of Forestry and Land Scotland, the government agency responsible for managing Scotland’s forests, and SilviBio is to carry out field trials at its nursery. SilviBio would also make aerial sowing of seed across regions such as Latin America more viable, enabling rapid regeneration of forest.
SivioBio Founder Dr Alicja Dzieciol is an expert in the synthesis and characterisation of hydrogel materials and has commercial experience developed when leading the scale-up of start-up company IN-PART. She says: “Many governments have announced ambitious tree-planting programmes but germination and seedling development is vulnerable to adverse weather. Using SilviBio seed coating would increase the success rate of these schemes and reduce the costs of replacing lost trees.”