Seedballs : ensuring high survival rates in a drone reforestation project

January 13, 2023

MORFO's reforestation method relies in part on the use of capsules and coatings for the seeds planted. These capsules are also sometimes called "beads". These capsules are filled with seeds that begin their germination directly in the capsule. They are then released from the sky by a drone whose release system we have developed with partners.

Capsules ensure high survival rates

Compared to the use of seeds in direct seeding, the capsules have several advantages:

  • They offer a growing medium with optimal humidity and biological richness for the plant;
  • They offer a physical structure that ensures resistance to the impact of the ball and thus adequate burial in the soil to initiate the vegetation cycle, while using the drone as a release tool;
  • They allow a storage period compatible with the planting seasons in the different regions of the world.

In doing so, we ensure a much higher survival rate, around 80%, than other commonly used planting methods, such as sowing or hydroseeding. Indeed, the activation of germination directly in the capsule, combined with the integration of other micro-organism elements, increases the chances of plant development. It should be noted that these capsules do not only contain one tree or one plant per unit, but a set of elements that allow the growth of complete eco-systems. And thus to ensure a complete, diverse and complementary revegetation.

Capsules contain locally sourced components

For various reasons, we use today capsules adapted to small seeds. However, it is possible, when the planting scheme invites it, to use larger seeds, by proceeding to a coating, which corresponds to a lighter protection without the amendments.

Note that the basic components of our capsules are always sourced locally, project by project. There are various reasons for this: to support local economic networks, to avoid any risk of ecosystem disruption due to the implantation of exogenous plants... For example, for our projects in Gabon, the clay usually used in our capsules has been replaced by kaolinia, a mineral species composed of hydrated aluminum silicate. The exact composition of these capsules is a property of our company, obtained through extensive research. We keep it a secret.

Image source: Liliya Filakhtova
Co-founder & Head of Operations and Industrialization
Hugo Asselin
- Paris, France

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