Roadside Planting

One of The Ray’s ongoing projects is the Landscape Lab on The Ray Highway, which demonstrates the natural capital regenerative roadside vegetation can provide such as stormwater management, pollution remediation, conservation of critical habitat and carbon sequestration. From slope stabilization that mitigates erosion and sedimentation to weed blanket applications that suppress invasive species in new plots, the Landscape Lab demonstrates a variety of net-zero measures that can be used to create a cost-effective, cleaner and more beautiful highway. Key landscape features on The Ray Highway include cost-effective seed installation, ongoing management of roadside meadows without irrigation, and the selection of seed mixes to balance aesthetics, resilience and successive blooming.

Pollinator Gardens are one of the Landscape Lab’s largest natural capital projects. Consisting of several experimental plots of wildflowers, grasses and other groundcover species along The Ray Highway at exits 6, 14 and the Georgia Visitor Information Center (VIC), they bloom seasonally to create an appealing display for motorists. Additionally, they are leveraged for studying the ecosystem and services that roadside meadows of native, perennial plants could deliver. Most modern roadsides consist of simple turf grass, and while turf grass may seem simpler than other greenery, it requires significant amounts of maintenance, including removing invasive species and regular mowing to keep the roadsides at a uniform height. These pollinator gardens, consisting of GA-based perennial displays, offer significantly less maintenance and mowing than the average roadside turf grass, offering monumental advantages compared to existing roadside greenery.

Agrela’s PheNode® Deployed

This project cross-pollinated leaders in the fields of sustainable transit and infrastructure with agricultural technology. An ongoing, longitudinal project, the goal is to validate, quantify and promote natural capital solutions in the transportation right-of-way (ROW) to have a net-zero, positive impact on communities and the environment.

Known as the Landscape Lab, The Ray, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), and the University of Georgia College of Environment + Design manage several experimental plots of wildflowers, grasses and other groundcover species along The Ray Highway at exits 6, 14 and at the Georgia Visitor Information Center (VIC). PheNode® was installed for a variety of monitoring functions, including data collection for all Landscape Lab plots. 

PheNode® is equipped with temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, light, air quality and soil sensors. Coupled with wireless connectivity, The Ray and GDOT can continuously monitor and collect data on environmental conditions within the plots. For projects implemented after PheNode® installation, the device will be able to provide robust data concerning the health and wellness of the area both before and after plantings. 

“Georgia DOT is glad to be part of an innovative deployment such as the Phenode,” said John Hibbard, the department’s Director of Operations and Maintenance.

The PheNode® installation at the Georgia Visitor Information Center will give visitors the unique opportunity to see the device in action, providing real-time educational information on the health of the meadow’s ecosystem.