Aerial Seeding

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Context: The State government is contemplating aerial seeding from the beginning of the monsoon season to December end, according to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Relevance:
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS III-

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.

Aerial seeding:

  • Aerial seeding is a technique of sowing seeds by spraying them through aerial mechanical means such as a drone, plane or helicopter.
  • Aerial seeding is considered a broadcast method of seeding.
  • It is often used to spread different grasses and legumes to large areas of land that are in need of vegetative cover after fires.
  • Large wildfires can destroy large areas of plant life resulting in erosion hazards.
  • Aerial seeding may quickly and effectively reduce erosion hazards and suppress the growth of invasive plant species.
  • Aerial seeding is an alternative to other seeding methods where terrain is extremely rocky or at high elevations or otherwise inaccessible.

History

  • Although it is an ancient technique that has roots in Antiquity—seed ball sowing was in use in Ancient Egypt, on farms, after the annual flooding of the Nile—it has become familiar after it was rediscovered by the Japanese natural farming pioneer, Masanobu Fukuoka.
  • According to the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the birthplace of aerial seeding in America happened 1921 in Ohio. Lt. John A.
  • Macready, a U.S. Army pilot, used a modified Curtis JN-6 to dust a field of catapla trees with arsenate to kill sphinx moth larvae. This early crop-dusting lead to aerial seeding.
  • Aerial reforestation, a type of aerial seeding, specifically to repopulate forest land after some type of disaster was being used as early as the 1930s.
  • Planes were used to seed mountain areas in Honolulu that were inaccessible to traditional methods after forest fires.
  • By 1946 aerial seeding was being used in Oregon to seed more than 500 acres of Douglas fir, 
  • Surplus planes from World War II were initially used for aerial seeding, with the open cockpit Stearman biplane used frequently. Because many veterans were trained to fly these planes, this led the way for many people to develop a business around aerial applications.

Aerial Seeding in India:

  • India has made efforts to achieve the target of 33 percent forest cover.
  • But an explosion of its population, as well as human activities such as urbanisation, industrial and agricultural expansion, dam building and road laying, mean that achieving it is going to be very difficult.
  • Aerial seeding could be one of the techniques.

       

Tamil Nadu as a pioneer:

  • The state has especially introduced new ways to sow seeds in order to ensure maximum chances of survival.
  • In recent years, the technique of “seed ball” sowing has picked up in Tamil Nadu. 
  • Seed balling was first carried out in Tamil Nadu in 1987.
  • At the time, aerial seeding of pellets was carried out by using pellets.
  • The seed ball sowing method is also considered to be more cost-effective when compared with other methods.
  • Process of aerial seeding:

    • The seeds were inserted inside earthen balls, the size of a plum. It was considered to be a modern technique of creating green cover and it yielded good results.
    • Seeds of tree species such as Indian Beach, East Indian Walnut, Margosa, Indian Cherry, Peepul, Banyan, Custard Apple and tamarind were inserted in the earthen balls.
    • The semi-solid balls were shade-dried initially and then allowed to dry in the hot sun for some time.
    • They were then sown in the Tiruchi Forest Range and on the Perumal Malai hills, a revenue hill located near Thuraiyur.

In addition to Tamil Nadu, seed balling is being followed successfully in other southern states like Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The Indian government should also promote this method.  



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