Aerial Seeding by Indian Navy Helicopters in Vishakhapatnam
On October 2, 2020, the Indian Navy along with Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation had undertaken Aerial Seeding in Vishakhapatnam. The initiative is aimed to increase green cover in and around Vishakhapatnam.
The event was flagged off by MPs of Rajya Sabha and Commanding-in-Chief of the East Naval Command (ENC) of Vishakhapatnam. Around 6.25 tonnes of seed balls were air dropped in five locations. The Naval helicopters air dropped a total of 50,000 seed balls. The areas where the afforestation has been planned is inaccessible by road and thus aerial seeding is undertaken with the assistance of ENC. Earlier Aerial Seeding was done in the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan.
What is Aerial Seeding?
It is a plantation technique where seed balls are sprayed using helicopters, drones or planes. The seed balls are dispersed with coating. This coating provides the desired weight for the seeds to airdrop in a predetermined location. The seeds sprout when it receives enough rain with nutrient present within them providing them the initial growth.
The aerial seeding rates should be 25% to 50% greater than drilled rates to achieve same stand. This increases seed cost. However, more acres can be seeded in less time when rains are to occur within 7 to 10 days.
Benefits of Aerial Seeding
The technique is best suited for steep slopes. It requires no attention after dispersing as they are already surrounded by nutrients, soil and microorganisms. The clay shell around the seeds also protects them from ants, birds and rats.
The aerial seeding also provides work opportunities to the local communities in preparation of seed balls. Seed balls consists of variety of different seeds that are rolled within a ball of clay. The additives included in seed ball are humus or compost. The additives are placed around the seed ball and at the centre to provide microbial inoculant.
Species used for Aerial Seeding
Only those species of plants that are native to the area are selected for aerial seeding. The seeds should be of larger size. Large-seeded legumes are better as they develop good seed-to-soil contact.