[permaculture] What - On Seedballs

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue May 31 23:15:11 EDT 2011


What - On Seedballs
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Restoration projects worldwide


This page contains information regarding the origin of seedballs, and 
the ingredients necessary to the making of seedballs

Contents

     1 Introduction
     2 Origins of the concept
         2.1 Antiquity
         2.2 Native Americans
         2.3 Masanobu Fukuoka (February 2, 1913 – August 16, 2008)
         2.4 - Panaiotis Manikis
     3 Ingredients
         3.1 Seeds
             3.1.1 Seed selection and collection
             3.1.2 References & resources for North America
             3.1.3 Reference & resources for Australia
             3.1.4 Guidelines: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) specific
             3.1.5 Plant species suitable for use in seedballs
         3.2 Clay
         3.3 Soil
         3.4 Water retention additives
         3.5 Natural predator repellent
         3.6 Mycorrhizal fungi
         3.7 Manure...
     4 "Seedballs" in foreign languages:
     5 References

Introduction

         What are seedballs ?
         It is  very important to understand at this stage that this 
website deals mostly with the use of seedballs as an alternative method 
of seed propagation in ecological restoration.

         The full potential of seedballs is very likely unleashed only 
through their use in Masanobu Fukuoka's integrated system 'Natural Farming'.

         Well, when one doesn't know about a word, one should try and 
decompose it... Seedballs are balls of seeds of course !
         They have been invented or rather discovered by plant 
pathologist, farmer, philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka in the 1950's as an 
alternative propagation technique that he used in 'Natural Farming'. 
Masanobu Fukuoka knew that people dig holes to plant plants only because 
they can, because seeds are precious. Loosing them to birds, insects, 
rodents, wind or water is not imaginable for most of them. But plants do 
not dig holes. Digging holes disturbs the soil ecosystem (adds oxygen, 
tears apart mycelia mats, stimulates 'weeds' take over, etc).Masanobu 
Fukuoka knew it. So he designed a method that would both protect the 
seeds and protect the soil. That method, part of consists of encasing or 
pelleting seed(s) in a mixture of at least clay, seeds and water that is 
rolled into a ball more or less the size of a marble. The seeds are 
already planted in the ball...so no need to plant them again; one just 
cast them on the ground. They stay there dormant until environmental 
factors such as rainfall make the seeds sprout, and plant establish. 
Generally, the plants that make it through the first year are the right 
plants for that place, that time.

         Voila !

         I also really like the extended presentation of the concept 
that Drs. Richard and Pat Richardson of the Department of Zoology at the 
University of Texas at Austin and their team gave in is paper:

         "Seedballs are a no-till method of sowing seed due to the fact 
that the seeds are already encapsulated in a clay/compost matrix. Their 
use was pioneered in Japan by Masanobu Fukuoka, the originator and chief 
proponent of an agricultural system known as "Natural Farming." 
Seedballs are a mixture of seeds, humus/compost, red clay, and water, 
rolled into half inch balls, allowed to dry, and then broadcast over 
various environments.

         The customary proportions of the various components are as 
follows (Bones 1988) : 1 part clean seed mix, 3 parts humus from 
compost, 5 parts powdered red clay (not white or gray clay), and 1 to 2 
parts water. The first three ingredients are usually mixed dry, with 
just enough water added to make the mixture workable, although our 
methods differed slightly (...).

         In the book, The One Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka made 
the first reference to seedballs when he mentioned his method of 
enclosing rice seeds in “little clay pellets” as part of no-till farming 
(Fukuoka 1978).  The rationale behind this method is two-fold. First, by 
not tilling or cultivating the soil, the farmer does not create a 
disturbed area which tend to be extremely susceptible to invasion by 
weeds. Secondly, the clay shell protects the seeds from wind and 
predation by birds, mammals, and insects (Trevis, 1958). The vast 
majority of the arthropod community, including several seed consumers, 
inhabit the soil and surface litter. Seedballs encapsulate the seeds 
protecting them from these seed predators. Seeds stay put until 
sufficient rainfall causes the clay to disintegrate and the seeds to 
germinate.

         Fukuoka originally conceived of the seedball concept after 
observing the structure of daikon radish seeds, which are encased in a 
protective shell that rots as the seedling sprouts (Fukuoka 1998).  This 
is one natural analog for seedballs. Some have suggested that seedballs 
are similar to seeds passing through the gut of large herbivores and 
being deposited in clumps of manure. (...). Seedballs might be more 
similar to seeds that manage to survive in the guts of birds and small 
mammals, although if all seeds were able to accomplish this feat, there 
would be no need for the human creation of seedballs. The pecan, which 
encases a nutrient-rich seed within a protective woody shell, may be 
another natural analogy.

         In addition to providing some protection from predators and the 
elements, seedballs allow the user to sow a wide variety of seeds 
simultaneously, whether they are an array of agricultural plants, or a 
set of native species used for habitat restoration. Optimally, a variety 
of species with unique niches should go into each seedball so that the 
broadcast balls will have a good chance of successful germination and 
growth in a diversity of habitat types."

         Seedballs have been first used in Natural Farming, a Nature 
regenerating method. After travelling abroad and feeling the creeping 
desertification of places in India, Africa, the USA, Masanobu Fukuoka 
understood that seedballs could be used to revert it, to 'regreen' 
deserts. This  does not mean that deserts have to be re-greened  but 
that Nature made desert can.

         The Seedball Story,  by Jim Bones


Origins of the concept

         It is always difficult to determine the origin of concepts, 
discoveries or inventions. Who found out that a mushroom (Fomes 
fomentarius) can smolder for days and therefore be a valuable tinder... 
who found that animal flesh is more tender cooked than raw. Who found 
out that you have to leach acorns for a day in fresh water before you 
can eat them safely...

         Who found out about seedballs ?

         Antiquity
         Seed pelleting techniques have been developed a long time ago.
         An irretrievable paper "History of seed health protection in 
ancient China ' by Gong YueJuan, Li JianQiang, Jin LeShan, and Gong 
YuePing published by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences 
introduces the 'earliest seed coating technology in the world (around 
1st century AD), the method of seed pelleting with a thick soup 
(prepared from horse bones, aconite [Aconitum spp.], silkworm droppings, 
and sheep dung.

         The Romans seem to have held some knowledge on seed pelleting 
as M. Evenari (1984) shows: Pliny the Elder (23 AD – August 25, 79) "is 
apparently (...) the first to describe seed pelleting. Seeds of various 
vegetables "are planted enclosed in hollow pellets of goats' dung, each 
seed in a separate pellet, they came up wonderfully".

Native Americans
Many blogs, and websites report that seedballs were used by "some native 
american tribes".
Since no references are given, one should treat prudently  this piece of 
information until evidence is uncovered.
So far the only use of clay pellets by Native American tribes I have 
managed to extract is 'projectiles for blowguns'.

Oelke, E.A. (1993) reports that:
"Perhaps the first individuals to attempt to increase availability of 
wild rice for food were Native Americans (Steeves 1952). Often suitable 
lakes or rivers were seeded to wild rice by mixing seed into clay, 
rolling it into a ball and dropping the clay ball into the water. This 
resulted in some, but not significant, increase in natural stands."

I nevertheless haven't been able to locate in Steeves' 1952 paper the 
mention of anything related to clay pellets or seedballs, quite the 
opposite:

"The Menomini, who of all the tribes have been the most profoundly 
influenced by wild rice, appear to have possessed a knowledge of the 
plant from the very beginning of their tribal organization.
According to their legend, Miin~ibush, one of their many mythical 
halfgod creatures, created the bear out of the earth and of the bear 
made an Indian
whom he called Skekatchekenan. This Indian then was established as 
leader of the bear phratry, the first section of the tribe, and to him 
Manabush gave a river (the Menominee), the fish in it, the sugar trees 
along its banks, and the rice
which grew in its shallows, with assurances that he and his followers 
should always have these things. After the tribe developed a unified 
organization, these gifts became the property of the whole group. 
Remembering that they
were promised that they would always have rice, these Indians have 
always refused to sow the grain, maintaining that such action would 
constitute a breach of
faith" (p13).

"Therehave been occasional reports of Indians sowing the grain, thereby 
establishing new stands for harvest, and of weeding unwanted plants from 
the rice marshes during the growing season, but such
practices seem rather to have been the exception than the rule" (p.20).

The plot is thickening.
Masanobu Fukuoka (February 2, 1913 – August 16, 2008)
Wikipedia's information introduces Masanobu Fukuoka's seedballs as "土団 
子,土だんご,Tsuchi Dango Earth Dumpling" see here; then in the article 
devoted to M. Fukuoka, the collective website says: 'Also he 
re-introduced the ancient technique of seed balls (粘土団子,土団子,土だ 
んご, Tsuchi Dango (Earth Dumpling). The seed for next season's crop is 
mixed with clay, compost, and sometimes manure, and formed into small 
balls. The result is a denser crop of smaller but highly productive and 
stronger plants'.
It turns out that tsuchi dango are not a traditional Japanese technique 
used in agriculture, but in a ritual (Kasa mori) involving the Inari 
deity embodied in a fox. The Tsuchi Dango represent the scabs of wounds 
consequence of smallpox ! See here.

To me, suggests that M. Fukuoka in fact invented seedballs, or rather 
retrieved them from Nature.

MASANOBU FUKUOKA
(February 2, 1913 – August 16, 2008)

         He made sure to protect seedballs from misguided use in 1998 
when applying for a patent (EP0885554) granted on 12/23/1998 the EPO 
(the European Patent Office) in Munich. At that time, M. Fukuoka was 
working on large projects in Europe (Greece).

         "I-we have received this philosophy and practice as a gift and 
that’s the way it must be communicated. Money distorts things, knowledge 
must not be given for money".

         - Panaiotis Manikis


         See here an interview of M. Fukuoka by Larry Korn. The 
'reference' section of this website contains more information about 
Masanobu Fukuoka and seedballs.

Ingredients

Seedballs are obtained by forming a mixture of clay, seeds, water, and 
sometimes other ingredients like soil, predator repellent, mycorrhizae 
etc. into a ball the size of a marble, or bigger, or smaller.
Seeds
Seeds contain information hidden within the plant embryo genetic 
structure and food that the embryo will use to develop as soon as 
endogenous and exogenous conditions trigger germination.
Not all seeds can be used in the making of seedballs for different 
reasons such as the size of the seeds themselves and their physiology. 
Seeds from species that have developed natural protection should not be 
used either.
Restoring (or restocking) soil seed bank (quantitatively and 
qualitatively) is - as far as I understand it - the soundest way to 
restore plant communities.

It is of the utmost importance that anyone who wants to use seedballs in 
ecological restoration considers very carefully the following point:

  GO INDIGENOUS - or GO NATIVE !

Indigenous or 'native' are have an ecological, genetic, aesthetic, as 
well as an economic value and  benefits in addition to their intrinsic 
value as living species.

Non-indigenous species, or non-native species can be introduced 
accidentally by humans or very often intentionally in the hope of 
economic or aesthetic gain. They can invade native ecosystem and in fine 
reduce the biodiversity of the system-host. Every year billion of 
dollars are given to chemical companies for poisons...

Seed have to originate from plants that are native to the same bioregion 
as the one they going to be propagated into. Generally, but not always, 
the preferred space unit is the WATERSHED.

Colautti Robert I. and MacIsaac Hugh J.,(2004).
Stinson & al. (2006. Invasive plant suppresses the growth of native tree 
seedlings by disrupting belowground mutualisms. PLoS Biol 4(5): e140. 
DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040140 here

Seed selection and collection
Depending on your project you may have to collect seeds for your 
restoration/propagation efforts.

It is very important to follow a few rules if you want to be successful 
and ecologically harmless.

Think about the following points before deciding to collect, adapted 
from 'SEED COLLECTING GUIDELINES For California Native Plant Species'by 
Michael Wall, Seed Program Manager, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden:


Why –  defining the purpose and use of the seed collection.
Am I collecting for horticulture, research, restoration, or conservation ?

What – defining high quality seed collections.

Have I correctly identified target species ?
What are healthy, viable seeds ?
Can I get a sufficient sized collection to meet the intended uses ?
Are my seeds genetically representative of the species, or population 
sampled ?
Did I gather adequate associated data to meet intended uses ?

Where – being at the right place.
What do I know of species distribution, local abundance, provenance, 
accessibility ?
What kind of permit do I need if I don't collect on my own property ?

When – at the right time
Collection timing varies by plant type, fruit type, (micro)climate, 
elevation, micro-habitat, seasons, years,

How – making high quality collections

     What is the impact of my collection and what are the ethics I have 
to internalize ?

     What are the best sampling methods and techniques ?

     The best collection methods ? How do I care for my collections ?

     Do the seeds require a special treatment (eg.scarification, smoke, 
fire treatment) ?


References & resources for North America
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services - Plants DATABASE
Native Plants Network Propagation Protocols
University of Michigan - Dearborn Native American Ethnobotany
Native Seed Network - Restoration Resources Species recommendation by 
project ecoregion
Consursium of California Herbaria Plants DATABASE
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plants DATABASE
The Center for Plant Conservation Ecotype Bibliography, literature on 
topics broadly relevant to genetic considerations in ecological restoration.

     Reference & resources for Australia
     Florabank - Florabank recognises and shares the best available 
knowledge from research and practice in native species seed management 
and supports a professional and informed seed sector, encouraging 
quality and choice for buyers of native Australian seed. Florabank also 
delivers training for seed professionals, and works to assist the native 
seed industry to grow and develop as a national peak body advocate.

     Australian Native Plants Society.The Australian Native Plants 
Society (Australia) - ANPSA - caters for people interested in 
Australia's native flora whether that interest is simple appreciation of 
the beauty and diversity of the flora or whether it extends to 
propagation, cultivation and conservation,

     Australian Ethnobotany, an alternative ethnobotany forum. Be aware 
that unfortunately a lot of people think that ethnobotany main field of 
enquiry is entheogenic substances. But guess what: it's not. Magic 
mushrooms, smokable and drinkable plants that helps one to find the 
'God-within' are psychoactive drugs, and psychoactive drugs are VERY 
RARELY used by herbalists and Plants-People. I would welcome an 
alternative source of information on Australian Ethnobotany.

     Books Dalton, Greg (2003). 'Direct Seeding of Trees and Shrubs - A 
Manual for Australian Conditions', Department of Primary Industries 
(SA), Adelaide.

     Murray, R. (2009). Growing Australian Native Plants from Seed. For 
revegetation, tree planting and direct seeding', Murray Ralph, Second 
Edition, Bushland Horticulture Publications.

     Sweedman, L.W. and Merritt, D.J. (eds) (2006) Australian seeds. A 
guide to their collection, identification and biology. CSIRO Publishing, 
Melbourne

Guidelines: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) specific
In 1993, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural 
Resources (IUCN), The World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, 
Switzerland, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published the 
Guidelines on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided the WHO Guidelines 
on good agricultural and collection practices (GACP) for medicinal plants.
In 2007, the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (MPSG) of the Species 
Survival Commission (SSC), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), on 
behalf of a Steering Group consisting of the Bundesamt für Naturschutz 
(BfN), MPSG/SSC/IUCN, WWF Germany, and TRAFFIC have released the long 
awaited International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of 
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP).

Commercial sources: There are ALWAYS ways to collect seeds from the 
wild, but if for some reason are in the incapacity to do so.Make sure 
that the company you buy your seeds from has good  environmental and 
social records. Avoid big companies as their seeds are mass produced, 
mass distributed - is Catbury's chocolate still chocolate ?.

Choose your local nursery or your local native seed supplier, over 
corporation, because they are more likely to care. Look for groups of 
seed savers and seed sharers.

Plant species suitable for use in seedballs
"If you 'we all' understand correctly from nature when not to use 
seedballs as the way for sowing seeds, rather using different ways, and 
the why for that from nature. Then you 'we all' will understand 
correctly when & why from nature itself, to use seedballs!
Seedballs aren't necessarily really appropriate for seeds with physical 
domancy requiring fire to break the testa - the physical barrier giving 
dormancy, such as many hard seeded Australian Acacia species from 
fire-dependent vegetations;
Nor are seedballs appropriate for species with physiologically 
short-lived seed embryos like many but certainly not all Australian 
rainforest species;
Nor of course are seedballs really appropriate for sowing species which 
are wanted to germinate immediately, and which have their own 
physical-seed-protections from predation - i think of the buckwheat crop 
i sow, and Fukuoka Masanobu sensei's advice saying so too on buckwheat, 
to simply broadcast seed directly, for example, because it is a very 
short lived -75 days more or less-, seasonal, fast-germinating and 
really frost sensitive species with a seed protected in a tough angular 
testa which however doesn't make it physically dormant'.
- Jason Stewart

Traditional plant, plant classification , seed ecological knowledge vs. 
botanical , morphological taxa knowledge

In an interview, Panaoitis Manikis, declared that 'what we (i.e., the 
Natural Farming movement , i.e seedballs users in revegetation) miss is 
the collaboration of scientists, because we need their work'.

Masanobu Fukuoka warns us: '(...)you have to be careful.This method does 
not mean that we should suddenly throw away all the scientific knowledge 
about horticulture that we already have. That course of action is simply 
abandonment, because it ignores the cycle of dependence that humans have 
imposed upon an altered ecosystem. If a farmer does abandon his or her 
"tame" fields completely to nature, mistakes and destruction are inevitable.

The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what 
unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand what 
needs to be done—and what must not be done—to work in harmony with its 
processes'

- The Plowboy Interview: Masanobu Fukuoka, Mother Earth News, Issue #76 
- July/August 1982, by Larry Korn

Although Masanobu Fukuoka was specifically talking about Natural Farming 
(an integrated system) I think that this warning can be applied to the 
selection of species  for use in seedballs.

Traditional plant, plant classification , seed ecological knowledge 
should be used together with  botanical , morphological taxa knowledge.

As far as I am concerned, our work is at the interface of science, 
sapience and traditional knowledge.

This is why I choose to propose a list of species suitable for use in 
seedballs for ecological restoration projects that includes science, 
traditional knowledge, hoping that sapience will guide us.

You know about seeds for use in seedballs and want to share your 
knowledge, please enter your information in the document below (
+
Add)





Clay
The use of clay in the making of seedballs as many advantages:
The structure of humidified clays is amazingly plastic and allows it to 
bind together with the other ingredients. Also clay has the capacity to 
absorb moisture when not saturated and therefore to direct water to the 
seeds by capillary action.
Clay when dry is very hard and act as a protective shell for the seed.
When the water content of the seedball allows for germination the clay 
regains its plasticity and participate in the destructuration of the 
seedball.
Red clay or terracota powdered red clay is preferred due to its 
interesting iron content (iron oxide): iron deficiency (aka iron stress) 
impairs photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation in plants. Red clay is 
oxidized, or  has been produced under aerobic conditions, whereas grey, 
green, blue clay have been produced under anaerobic conditions.
Andrea Bellamy from Heavy Petal says that she "tried using grey clay 
from a riverbank - it doesn’t work so well." Other sources confirmed 
that red clay works better that grey and blue river clays, although 
others say that blue, white and greens worked well too. To my knowledge 
only Greening Australia has compared thoroughly different clays in the 
making of seedballs, with clear results.
Different types of clay give
different results after
4 months
(source GA, ACT)


You can get in touch with your local potters association to find the 
best provider.

But generally, and for multiple reasons local sources are always a 
better alternative to non-local ones...

For further learning o clay visit the Clay Minerals Society website.

For fun - dip your whole hand and forearm in a bag of powdered clay:
great sensual experiment...it feels like DRY WATER !
Soil
Jim Bones:'the soil/compost mix I include with theseed balls is the most 
important element, perhaps even more so than the seeds! Without the soil 
microbes, the little people who really make soil fertile, the success 
rate of seed balls is very low in arid climates or on land that has lost 
its soil fertility for whatever
reason.

Most plants have very specific partners in the soil. I find it helpful 
to collect small amounts of native soil from the subsurface and upper 
root zone where most of the beneficial fungi live. I gather a very small
amount of this from around each type of plant I am including in the mix. 
I then add these natural inoculating life forms to small compost beds 
needed to "grow out" the material actually used in the seed balls. Mr.
Fukuoka brews up a real microbiologist's inoculum in sterile ways that 
only a fungi growing laboratory allows. My point is fertility counts for 
a lot.

I also find it is important to keep the whole seed ball mix as dry as 
possible and still be able to make the seed balls roll out smooth and 
solid. If the seeds get too wet in the process or they do not dry 
quickly enough, they may sour or ferment and not germinate'.

Adding  soil allows for extra nutrients to be available for the seedling 
after cotyledons nutrients reserves have been exhausted as well as and 
more importantly makes your seedballs alive.

Be careful when selecting a compost, as some have a lot of things you 
should not include in a seedball: plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, 
unwanted seeds, unwanted microbes. As great as 'free compost' sounds, 
you may want to consider purchasing it from a reliable source, unless 
you make your own, which is the best you can get.
Compost is also the medium to use for fixing mycelia strains, rhizobium 
(beneficial bacteria) and other additives.
It should be dried as all seedballs recipes on the web stipulate, which 
prevents the seeds from swelling/germinating before the seedballs are 
propagated.
I find that worm castings are a very good alternative to compost as they 
contain not only fantastic nutrients and earthworm cocoons, but they 
free of twigs and fiber (i.e, no sifting required - homogeneity of the 
seedballs structure ).
Alternatively adding encapsulated worm cocoons to compost could be 
interesting too, although you'd have to make sure that they are native 
from the area you want to restore see
Bohlen P.j & al., (2004). Non-Native Invasive Earthworms as Agents of 
Change in Northern Temperate. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 
Vol. 2,pp. 427-435.

I have used many times soil from the propagation area. It works, after 
sifting. I have no data as to its efficiency compared to compost/worm 
castings.

NEVER USE POTTING MIXES, it has been pasteurized to avoid 
cross-contamination, it is DEAD SOIL. It may be good for your 'baby 
indoor, household potted plants'but it is very bad for all restoration 
purposes, including seedlings growing in commercial native plant nurseries.

Native soil from the desired propagation area should always be used 
preferably to any other type of soil / compost when included in an 
ecological restoration project.

I got interested in inquiring about the use of termite mound soil or 
termitaria for seedball making due to the interesting mineral 
composition, and their microbiology  - presence of actinomycetes 
bacteria, fungi, see: Sako & al.(2009), D. López-Hernández (2001), Ketch 
& al.(2001), and Spain, A.V & McIvor J.G.(1988.)


Coincidently, Deepak Suchade uses termitaria it in the Beej 
Upchaar-Sanskaar method. Rajuk (Raju) Titus a long time Natural Farmer 
giving workshops on Natural Farming in India, seems to be using 
termitaria too, as seen on his Picasa Web-Album: Raghav Natural Farm and 
Natural Farming Workshop at Devengere Karnatka.
Water retention additives
In Greece, M. Fukuoka has been using cotton wool for its hydrophilic 
properties as well as paper/ paper pulp.This suggests that water 
retention additives can be employed.

Now the question is: besides cotton wool and paper/paper pulp what kind 
of water retention additives would we want to use in seedballs ?

Other 'Natural' water retention additives

You can choose to add other water retention producst to your seedballs 
if really there is a need for it. Perlite, Vermiculite, Diatomaceous 
earth (aka diatomite or kieselgur)may improve results.

Polyacrylamide based gels & crystals

Polyacrylamide is a polymer based on acrylamide molecules. Acrylamide is 
a neurotoxin, a carcinogen and a mutagen that was added on March 30th 
2010, on the European Chemical Agency’ s Candidate List of Substances of 
Very High Concern for Authorization. See report here.
For Woodrow & Al. (2008) there are strong possibilities that 
polyacrylamide can depolymerize in ecological conditions (i.e. sunlight) 
hence releasing acrylamides...

Starch based gels & crystals

Perhaps...

All being said it really depends on the precipitation patterns blessing 
your land....and the size/shape of your seedballs.
Natural predator repellent
Read the following account by Jim Bones:

"Often up to 80% of broadcast seed is lost to birds, mice and insects 
before it can germinate. In one field test I conducted on western range 
land, harvester ants alone collected a quarter pound of grass and 
wildflower seeds, from one square yard, in less than an hour!
To work well seed balls need to be used in areas that receive at least 
10 to 12 inches of annual precipitation, but the timing of the rains is 
also important. Three to five inches of rain are required to dissolve 
the seed balls and begin germination. Continued rains are then needed to 
promote growth and establish viable root systems.
Light rains may only soften the clay and allow predators like birds, 
mice and ants to tear the seed balls apart and even dig under them for 
seeds. So it may be necessary to add a natural repellent such as red 
chili pepper, catnip, pennyroyal or peppermint, to the seed balls to 
prevent predation. The amount of repellent added will vary with the 
type, but about 10% by volume of the amount of soil compost should be 
sufficient.
Dried, powdered chili peppers appear to provide substantial protection 
across a broad range of predators for the least amount of material used. 
  If you use red chili, wear gloves and a mask to avoid irritation. You 
may also need to experiment to find the most effective repellents for 
your local predators."
in, Seedballs and predators, the use of natural repellents, by Jim Bones 
(seedballs.com).

Trevis (1958), found a colony of Veromessor pergandei (Mayr) collected 
an average of 7,000 seeds a day in the Sonoran Desert, Colorado, U.S.A., 
and calculated that six colonies would collect 15 million seeds from one 
acre in one year... thats a lot of seeds.

A definitely non-vegan way used by The Upper Torrens Land Management 
Project in South Australia: blood and bones to deter rabbits from eating 
sprouts.

Mycorrhizal fungi
Beneficial plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere are primary 
determinants of plant health and soil fertility. Arbuscular mycorrhizae 
are the most important  symbionts for the majority of plants and, often 
influence plant community development, nutrient uptake, water relations 
and above-ground productivity. They also act as bioprotectants against 
pathogens and toxic stresses. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have an 
impact in landscape regeneration, horticulture, alleviation of 
desertification and in the bioremediation of contaminated soils.

"It is vital that soil scientists and agriculturalists pay due attention 
to the management of AMF in any schemes to increase, restore or maintain 
soil fertility" (Jeffries and al. 2003).

What strain of mycorrhizal fungi is another question. Douglas J.E. 
Barnes from EcoEdge Design Ltd. Permaculture Consulting says on his blog 
that "for species that can benefit from mycorrhizal relationships, 
adding the spores of mycorrhizal fungi such as the genus Glomus and/or 
Rhizopogon, species Gigaspora margarita, and/or Pisolithus tinctorus 
would be beneficial, though not necessary.These are readily available 
through Fungi Perfecti " the mind-boggling venture of fungi-whisperer, 
former logger and genius Paul Stamets

A good source of information would be your local university soil ecology 
(biology, zoology) department .

Nevertheless you should always use fungi that are native to the area you 
want to work on. By altering the below- ground dynamic equilibrium fungi 
can affect the above-ground dynamic equilibrium too: qualitatively and 
quantitatively.

Last but not least, if you feel industrious you can take soil samples of 
the propagation area determine the quantity and nature of the strains in 
your sample and cultivate the strains, then inoculate your compost/soil 
used in the seedballs mix, or add spores to the mix.

More at mycorrhizal associations an online textbook to provide current 
information about mycorrhizal associations.

Tallasen (1997) and Todd R. Caplan & al. (1999) report the use of 
mycorrhyzal fungi inoculation of seedballs.
Talkasen (1997) says that: "Various inoculum pellet techniques, some 
patented, have been studied and shown to be effective in conveying live 
inoculum to the field. This technique is a hybrid of the broadcast and 
the trenching method. In typical pellets, inoculum is mixed with moist 
clay to form a small pellets, which are then rolled in seeds. The seed 
pellets can then be dried and planted over large areas using a seed 
drill. The advantage of this method is that inoculum can readily 
colonize the germinating seed via direct contact. Less inoculum is 
required and the labor requirements are minimal. (Sieverding 1991). 
Inoculum pellets work well when restorations involve small seeds that 
can be made into manageable pellets. However, many prairie grasses have 
large fluffy seeds with bracts on them that might limit their ability to 
form pellets usable in a seed drill. Inoculum pelleting is still more of 
an experiment than a proven field technique".

I would add that if it does not work it is very likely because the 
fungal material has been misused by an untrained mushroom cultivator, 
not because it is not a good method. (see P.Stamets, in Mycelium 
Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, Ten Speed Press, 2005).
Manure...
I am personally not in favor of adding manure in seedballs, for unknown 
reasons.

and Love. Or 'on the ethics of shared intentionality'

What motivates you has a human being ?
What motivates your group as a collective ?
For a good source of information on motivation read Maslow and on on 
shared intentionality see this bibliography of collective intentionality 
and sociality.



"Seedballs" in foreign languages:

French - Billes de graines

Japanese - Tsuchi-dango, Sheedo baaru, 粘土団子

Italian - Palline di argilla

German -

Spanish - Bollas de arcillas, nengo dango.

Greek -

Arabic -

Hindi -

Indonesian -
References

         Plinius (Gaius Plinius Secundus),  Books XII-XIX, 2 Vols. Loeb 
Classical Libr. Heinemann, London and Harvard Univ. Press, Boston. 
(1960, 1971); in M. Evenari, Seed Physiology: Its History from Antiquity 
to the Beginning of the 20th Century.The Botanical Review, Vol. 50 
April, June 1984 No. 2, p119-142.


Aboubakar Sako, Anthony J. Mills, Alakendra N. Roychoudhury (2009). Rare 
earth and trace element geochemistry of termite mounds in central and 
northeastern Namibia: Mechanisms for micro-nutrient accumulation. 
Geoderma, Volume 153, Issues 1-2, 15 October 2009, Pages 217-230.

D. López-Hernández (2001). Nutrient dynamics (C, N and P) in termite 
mounds of Nasutitermes ephratae from savannas of the Orinoco Llanos 
(Venezuela). Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 33, Issue 6, May 
2001, Pages 747-753.

L. A. Ketch, D. Malloch, W. C. Mahaney, M. A. Huffman (2001). 
Comparative microbial analysis and clay mineralogy of soils eaten by 
chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Tanzania. Soil Biology 
and Biochemistry, Volume 33, Issue 2, February 2001, Pages 199-203.

Steeves, T.A. 1952. Wild rice: Indian food and a modern delicacy. Econ. 
Bot. 26:107-142.

Oelke, E.A. 1993. Wild rice: Domestication of a native North American 
genus. p. 235-243. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. 
Wiley, New York.)

Colautti Robert I. and MacIsaac Hugh J., (2004). A neutral terminology 
to define ‘invasive’ species. Diversity and Distributions, (Diversity 
Distrib.), issue 10 , 135–141 Biodiversity research,  Blackwell 
Publishing, Ltd.doi:10.1111/j.1366-9516.2004.00061.x

Trevis Jr., Lloyd (1958). Interrelations between the harvester ant 
Veromessorpergandei (Mayr) and some desert emphemerals. Ecology 39 : 695.

Jeffries, P; Gianinazzi, S; Perotto, S; Turnau, K; Barea, J-M (2003). 
The contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in sustainable 
maintenance of plant health and soil fertility. Biol. Fertility Soils 
37: 1–16.

Tallaksen, J (1997). Use of Mycorrhizal Inoculum as a Soil Amendment 
During Prairie Restoration. Restoration and reclamation review, Vol.2 
N0. 5, Spring 1997.

Spain A.V. & McIvor J.G.(1988). The Nature of Herbaceous Vegetation 
Associated with Termitaria in North- Eastern Australia. Journal of 
Ecology, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 181-191

Todd R. Caplan, Heather A. Pratt, Samuel R. Loft (1999). Influence of 
Mycorrhizal Source and Seeding Methods on Native Grass Species Grown in 
Soils from a Disturbed Site  in USDA Forest Service Proceedings 
RMRS-P-7. 1999. In: Finch, Deborah M.; Whitney, Jeffrey C.; Kelly, 
Jeffrey F.; Loftin, Samuel R. 1999. Rio Grande ecosystems: linking land, 
water, and people. Toward a sustainable future for the Middle Rio Grande 
Basin. 1998 June 2-5; Albuquerque, NM. Proc. RMRS-P-7. Ogden, UT: U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Gross L (2006) How an Aggressive Weedy Invader Displaces Native Trees. 
PLoS Biol 4(5): e173.

Stinson KA, Campbell SA, Powell JR, Wolfe BE, Callaway RM, et al. (2006) 
Invasive Plant Suppresses the Growth of Native Tree Seedlings by 
Disrupting Belowground Mutualisms. PLoS Biol 4(5):e140.


Sieverding, E.(1991). Vesicular-arbuscuiar mycorrhiza management in 
tropical Agrosystems. GTZ. Press. Germany.


Dalton, Greg (2003). 'Direct Seeding of Trees and Shrubs - A Manual for 
Australian Conditions', Department of Primary Industries (SA), Adelaide.


Murray, R. (2009). Growing Australian Native Plants from Seed. For 
revegetation, tree planting and direct seeding', Murray Ralph, Second 
Edition, Bushland Horticulture Publications.


Sweedman, L.W. and Merritt, D.J. (eds) (2006) Australian seeds. A guide 
to their collection, identification and biology. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne

Woodrow JE, Seiber JN, Miller GC. (2008). "Acrylamide Release Resulting 
from Sunlight Irradiation of Aqueous Polyacrylamide/Iron Mixtures". 
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56 (8): 2773-2779. 
doi:10.1021/jf703677v. ISSN 0021-8561. PMID 18351736.








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