Moving from concept to implementation is always the biggest leap for any innovation. We were fortunate enough to have New Mexico State University (NMSU) take this jump with us in what is now a multi-year adaptive research program for the Cocoon and re-establishment of Cottonwoods along the Rio Grande.
Back in 2014, we partnered with NMSU on one of our very first planting projects. NMSU’s objective was to reintroduce native species along the banks of the Rio Grande. Increasingly over recent years, the natives had been dispelled by an aggressive invader, the saltcedar or tamarisk. These thirsty plants suck up a disproportionate amount of water, leaving little for other flora. This ultimately degrades the riparian habitat of wildlife which can no longer find the plants they need.
LOCATION NEW MEXICO
PARTNER NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
GOAL REESTABLISHING INDIGENOUS SPECIES ALONG THE RIO GRANDE
The State Park had been replanting Cottonwoods and Desert Willow species with 5% success rates and was experimenting with different solutions. We knew the conditions were challenging; high levels of saline in the soil and an active wildlife population that enjoys snacking on young, tasty seedlings.
Our first results (20-40% survival) were disappointing to us but a good improvement over previous results. Based on the field results and feedback from Dr. Amy Ganguli and her team, we improved the structural design of the Cocoon in time for a second planting in the Fall of 2014. Those results showed improvement with 40-50% survival. Encouraging, but back to the field we went again. The Cocoons used in the 3rd planting had evolved into the current design, with stronger tree shelters (against rabbits and other critters) and improved wax application to hold water longer. The results from this planting in Fall 2015 show a 75-80% success rate.
This planting project with the NMSU formed an important cornerstone in the Research and Development phase of our Cocoon technology. By experimenting with different approaches and learning from the results, we took an important step in optimizing our planting results in the future.