Producing moss-colonized burlap fabric in a fog chamber for restoration of biocrust

Kyle D. Doherty, Henry S. Grover, Matthew A. Bowker, Rebecca A. Durham, Anita J. Antoninka, Philip W. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We developed a system that waters biocrust moss with fog on a burlap substrate, tested its production capacity, and evaluated field establishment of the moss-colonized fabrics it produced. First, we studied effects of application rate, watering period, and pulverization on biomass increase of Syntrichia ruralis, a globally distributed moss. We observed increases at both high and low application rates, though pulverization impeded growth. In a subsequent experiment studying growth more frequently we observed this species increase by 1.5% in the first 30 days and 17% over 81 days. This confirmed our expectation of a non-linear relationship between time and yield when cultivating tissues that have incurred stress prior to cultivation from the field or during storage. In both experiments moss was loosely attached to burlap following cultivation. We field tested moss-colonized burlap produced in a multi-level fog system, installing it face-up or down, and compared cover change with the same material detached from burlap and with wild moss. We observed losses in all treatments after five months, perhaps due to inactivity and consequent displacement by wind during an anomalous summer drought. However, face-down treatments retained the most cover and regenerated to 60% (initial levels) by the following spring. These levels were four-fold higher than fog chamber materials without burlap association. Fog materials with no burlap association established 8% more cover than wild moss, suggesting that fog materials are as field-ready as wild materials. Thus, moss-colonized burlap is effective at rapidly establishing biocrust in the field, even during drought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106019
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume158
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • Biological soil crust
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Erosion control
  • Fog cultivation
  • Rangelands
  • Soil restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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