Context: Recently, the Haryana Forest Department has started aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis, with the drive touching the Aravalli region of Faridabad district.
Importance of Aerial Seeding in Aravalli regions
- It will allow plantation in sections of the Aravallis that are either difficult to access or inaccessible altogether.
- The pilot project will help determine the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
About Aerial Seeding
- It 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.
- The seed 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 of clay, compost, char and other material.
- These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients present within them helping in the initial growth.
- The species selected 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.
Benefits of Aerial Seeding
- Reaching the inaccessible areas: The areas that are inaccessible, have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult, can be targeted with aerial seeding.
- Fire and Forget principle in seed dispersion: The process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed, that is why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
- No requirement of digging and ploughing: Aerial Seeding eliminates the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil.
- Elimination of manual plantation of seeds: The seeds do not need to be planted, since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms.
- Protection of seeds from fauna: The clay shell of seed pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
- Supplementing conventional methods of plantation: The idea of the forest department is not to replace conventional methods but to supplement them, adding that the stage can only come “when there is improvement in technology, when you have drones that are particularly developed for seeding”.
Source: The Indian Express