Aerial Seeding in Haryana | 30 Jul 2020

Why in News

Recently, the Haryana government has employed aerial seeding techniques to improve green cover in the Aravalli area of the state.

  • The project is being carried out on a pilot basis to regenerate the low vegetation density or denuded areas on inaccessible or difficult sites of Aravalli and Shivalik hills.

Aerial Seeding

  • Description:
    • Aerial Seeding is a plantation technique wherein seed balls — seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components — are sprayed using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.
  • Working:
    • Seeds balls/pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by low-flying drones, with the coating providing the required weight for seeds to airdrop on a predetermined location rather than getting deterred by the wind.
    • These pellets sprout when there is enough rain, with nutrients present within them helping in initial growth.
  • Advantages:
    • Areas that are inaccessible, having steep slopes or no forest routes, can be targeted using this method.
    • The process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed and thus seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
    • They eliminate any need for ploughing and do not need to be planted since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms. The clay shell also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
  • Species to be Used for Aerial Seeding:
    • The plant species which are native to the area and hardy, with seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs are usually used for aerial seeding, with a higher survival percentage.

Key Points

  • Use of Seeding Drone:
    • The method involves spraying seed balls or seed pellets from the air using seeding drones.
    • It is equipped with a precise delivery mechanism for seeds of different sizes from a height of 25 to 50 metres.
    • A single drone can plant 20,000-30,000 seeds a day.
  • Implementation:
    • The method is being implemented on 100 acres of land to test efficacy of the seed dispersal mechanism and review the success rate.
    • The species that will be planted through aerial seeding include Acacia senegal (Khairi), Ziziphus mauritiana (Beri), and Holarrhena spp (Inderjo), all of which have a higher chance of survival in these areas.
      • Also, site specific grass seeds will also be added to the mix as they serve as good soil binders.
  • Significance:
    • It will provide work opportunities to the local community, especially women, who can prepare the seed balls.
    • The method will be useful since there are many areas that are either difficult to reach or inaccessible altogether, making traditional methods of plantation difficult.