[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
2 Origins of the concept
2.2 Native Americans
2.3 Masanobu Fukuoka (February 2, 1913 – August 16, 2008)
2.4 - Panaiotis Manikis
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
3.4 Water retention additives
3.5 Natural predator repellent
3.6 Mycorrhizal fungi
4 "Seedballs" in foreign languages:
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.
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
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
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 ?
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".
Many blogs, and websites report that seedballs were used by "some native
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
"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
"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
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.
(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.
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 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
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.
Seed selection and collection
Depending on your project you may have to collect seeds for your
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
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,
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
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
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,
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
Nor are seedballs appropriate for species with physiologically
short-lived seed embryos like many but certainly not all Australian
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
- 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 (
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
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
(source GA, ACT)
You can get in touch with your local potters association to find the
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 !
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
I am personally not in favor of adding manure in seedballs, for unknown
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
"Seedballs" in foreign languages:
French - Billes de graines
Japanese - Tsuchi-dango, Sheedo baaru, 粘土団子
Italian - Palline di argilla
Spanish - Bollas de arcillas, nengo dango.
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.
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
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
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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