3 October 2020.
Indian Navy is partnering with Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) in undertaking Aerial Seeding at Visakhapatnam.
- The initiative of GVMC is aimed to enhance the green cover in and around Visakhapatnam.
- It was flagged off by Rajya Sabha MPs and Officer Commanding-in-Chief ENC at INS Dega on 02 October 2020.
- Two UH3H helicopters with two tons of seed balls undertook the aerial seeding.
- Naval helicopters will be airdropping a total of 50,000 seed balls weighing approx. 6.25 tonnes in five locations identified by GVMC.
- These locations include areas around Pedagantyada, Aganampudi, Naidu Thota, Chinamushidiwada, and Pavuralakonda in Bheemili where afforestation is planned covering an area of nearly 200 acres and are inaccessible by road and therefore aerial seeding is being undertaken with the assistance of ENC.
What is 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 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.
How does this technique work?
- 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 of clay, compost, char and other material, that 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 present within them helping in the initial growth.
What are the advantages of this technique?
- 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.
- Furthermore, the process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed – the reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
- They 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. The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
- What kind of species can be dispersed using aerial seeding?
- 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. Officials also say that it is critical that the timing of the seeding be correct in order for the plantation to be successful.
- Can this replace conventional plantation methods in the state?
- According to Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Vinod Kumar,idea is not to replace conventional methods but to supplement them.
- It can replace conventional methods only when there is improvement in technology, and drones are particularly developed for seeding.