Aquatrols Corporation of America announced a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

This CRADA was put in place to further develop a technology that Aquatrols licensed from Brigham Young University in January 2011. The objective of this strategic partnership is to further advance a surfactant seed coating formulation that is effective in treating soil water repellency and improving seedling establishment in wildland, turfgrass, and agricultural systems.

The agreement has the potential to improve plant establishment in water-repellent soils, a persistent problem for growers worldwide. The merger of seed treatment and surfactant technologies could potentially reduce the cost, time, and amount of seed needed in the agricultural, horticultural, and turfgrass industries.

In addition, the partnership may also offer real solutions to an impeding decline in the overall availability of water. According to the USDA, “drought, climate variability, salinity, and competing demands for water resources could lead to 20% less water available for agriculture and rural and urbanizing communities by 2025.”

“Surfactant seed coating technology has the potential to address this alarming issue byincreasing moisture availability within the soil surrounding seeds, leading to a reduction in watering rates,” stated Aquatrols President Tracy Jarman.

The potential for improved moisture availability along with a possible rise in the speed and success of plant establishment may also play a pivotal role in restoring areas affected by severe drought and/or wildfire conditions.

“Improved seed coating technology has the potential to transform the way rangeland isrestored. We are in need of new tools to help managers in their restorationefforts,” stated Tony Svejcar, Rangeland Scientist and Research Leader at the Agricultural Research Service.

Although there is plenty of work to be done, there is a sense of optimism among those involved in the partnership. “New seed treatment technologies may dramatically improve seeding success of native species, which currently has a failure rate of over 90%,” predicted Dr. Matt Madsen, Research Ecologist and Inventor with the ARS.

With the CRADA now in place, field evaluations are expected to begin in Fall 2012 in North America, Europe, and Asia.