Moss Cultivation For Conservation and Profit
Apparently we are harvesting too much moss. A recent article in Conservation In Practice says: "So widespread is the commercial use of wild-collected mosses that some U.S. forests are undergoing the botanical equivalent of strip mining. According to results from a study released in 2004, the U.S. floral industry alone consumes up to 37 million dry kilograms of moss each year--for both domestic purposes and export." Nalini Nadkarni a forest ecologist at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, would like to see moss farming replace collecting as the main source of moss for the horticultural trade. And she has found an unusual base of operations for her experiments to develop moss cultivation techniques — a minimum security prison (see more info here). So how hard is it to grow moss?Despite the fact that mosses possess one of the most ancient lineages on Earth, little is known about methods for cultivating them. To date, the Cedar Creek mosses have survived captivity, but their slow growth rates limit their promise for commercial production. Future experiments call for stimulating faster growth with measured doses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Farmed mosses that respond well to such inputs could be test-marketed through nurseries.