AERIAL SEEDING CAMPAIGN

  • Recently, Hara Bhara, India’s first aerial seeding campaign in Telangana using the Seedcopter drone was launched.
  • Earlier, in August 2015, Andhra Pradesh government had launched the aerial seeding programme using Indian Navy helicopters.

Important points:

  • The idea of the campaign is to accelerate the mission of reforestation by planting one billion trees using drones by 2030 in the country.
  • The project uses drones to disperse seed balls over thin, barren, and empty forest lands to turn them into lush green abodes of trees.
  • The ‘seedcopter’ which is a drone developed by Marut Drones is an aerial seeding solution for rapid and scalable reforestation.
  • It 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 planting.
  • 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.

Prevents :

  • Aerial application does not cause soil compaction, hence prevents soil runoff.
  • This type of seeding technique will be most useful for tropical forests because they absorb carbon much faster than other forest types and also support much higher biodiversity.

Challenge:

  • Drones may reduce costs, but one cannot rule out the possibility of seeds falling on the wrong spot.
  • Even when they reach the ground many variables can hinder the emergence of seedlings, such as soil composition, animal predation and weed competition.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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