The Haryana Forest Department has recently begun aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis, starting with the Aravalli region.
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The pilot project will help determine the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
About aerial seeding:
Aerial seeding is a technique of plantation wherein seed balls – seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components – are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.
Seeds balls or seed pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by the low-flying drones, falling to the ground with the help of the coating.
The coating provides the required weight for seeds to drop on a predetermined location rather than disperse in the wind.
These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients.
According to the officials, the timing of the seeding is critical, hence to be taken care of for the plantation to be successful.
What kind of species can be dispersed?:
Have to be native to the area and hardy: With seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs, and have to have a higher survival percentage.
Advantages of aerial seeding:
Suitable for inaccessible areas:
That have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult.
Process of growth requires no attention:
The reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
Eliminate the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil and the seeds do not need to be planted, since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms.
Protection from birds:
The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
Can it replace conventional plantation methods?
According to the officials, aerial seeding as of now being done only on a pilot basis, to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
Will supplement, not replace conventional methods:
And the stage of replacing conventional methods can only come when there is improvement in technology, when drones particularly developed for seeding are there.