Context: The Haryana Forest Department has recently begun aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis, starting with the Aravalli region.

More on the news: 

  • The pilot project will help determine the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.

About aerial seeding:

  • Aerial seeding 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.
  • Working:
    • 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.
    • The coating 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. 
    • According to the officials, the timing of the seeding is critical, hence to be taken care of for the plantation to be successful.
    • What kind of species can be dispersed?: 
      • 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. 

Advantages of aerial seeding:

  • Suitable for inaccessible areas: That have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult. 
  • Process of growth requires no attention: The reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
  • 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. 
  • Protection from birds: The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.

Can it replace conventional plantation methods?

  • According to the officials, aerial seeding as of now being done only on a pilot basis, to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
  • Will supplement, not replace conventional methods: And the stage of replacing conventional methods can only come when there is improvement in technology, when drones particularly developed for seeding are there.


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