[permaculture] Where - On Seedballs

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue May 31 23:20:53 EDT 2011

Where - On Seedballs

On Seedballs

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Restoration projects worldwide

"...(Anywhere) there are seeds missing in the soil. All you have to do 
is sow seeds."
- Panaoitis Manikis

The information given here is solely intended to provide basic knowledge 
of the nature of seedballs.


     1 Precipitation patterns
     2 Macro scale
     3 Meso & micro-scale

Precipitation patterns
This is a very important point. Any research / project / individual who 
aims at assessing the efficiency of seedballs casting as an alternative 
plant propagation technique and downplay this critical point will surely 
conclude that they are not quite that efficient and that would suck big 

Because you need rain for plants to grow.

Jim Bones gives (a seedball pioneer in the USA)a critical piece of 
information: "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 seedballs and begin germination. Continued 
rains are then needed to promote growth and establish viable root systems".

My personal experience shows that less water is needed to "dissolve" the 
seedballs (1.5 inches in 2009 in Southern California, followed by a 
couple of overcast fresh days). But wind condition, exposition and other 
factors are to be taken into consideration. I am pretty sure that it has 
to do with the surface area/volume ratio of the sphere and that in order 
to optimize the efficiency of seedballs in drier zones one has to 
consider the proportion of the components, the size and the shape of the 
(seed)ball, ()cube, ()ovoid. Moreover, sprouts that originated from 
seedballs will probably not establish viable root systems if naturally 
occurring sprouts don't...

This being said, you probably look for more that seedballs sprouting.

As a rule of thumb, therefore 10 to 12 inches (250-300 mm) is a probable 
minimum (Jim Bones).

That being said, do plants grow only where it rains enough, or does it 
rain enough only where plants grow ?

In densely vegetated ares such as rainforests plants act a a water pump 
through evapo-transpiration. Moreover, water vapor has a higher pressure 
than condensed droplets, so when water evaporates from a rainforest and 
condenses overhead, a low pressure zone is created, which essentially 
sucks in wind - and rain - towards the center. Is this cycle, dubbed the 
'biotic pump', by Makarieva & Gorshkov (2006a) what Masanobu Fukuoka 
referred to when he said “Rain doesn’t fall from above. It falls from 
below (...)”?

To this pump effect one should add the chemicals that tree release and 
that condense water. Their name given by Willie Smits in his must see 
TED TALK presentation on an integrated Orang Utan habitat restoration 
Samboja Lestari in Kalimantan (Borneo) is unclear to me due to his light 
dutch accent...despite the fact that I lived four years in Holland. It 
is at 15'42 in the video [maɪkhɪst] If you know, please contact me !
W. Smits achieved through a smart design to get air temperature to fall 
by 3 to 5 degrees centigrade, cloud cover to increase by 12% and 
rainfall by 20-25% with the forest cooling the atmosphere and attracting 
rain clouds.

Willie Smits 'used a Dutch word from (his) studies in tropical forestry 
"mikisten", which is a general word for substances emitted from the tree 
leaves such as for instance terpenes. These enhance the formation of 
rain.' (personnal communication).

After a brief research it turns out that biogenic aerosol do indeed 
enhance the formation of rain. One Lab is pioneering this research: see 
Dominik Spraklen at the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at 
Leeds University, UK.

Re-greening is priming that 'biotic pump'. Using seedballs is the way to 
do it.

The concept of Biotic pump has been discredited by a paper untitled 'A 
"Forests as biotic pump” hypothesis discredited due to errors in basic 
atmospheric physics', Kees Stigter and  Agromet Vision, Bruchem, the 
Netherlands & Bondowoso, Indonesia, and Antoon Meesters, Faculty of 
Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

They write:

"Local people in many partially forested regions believe that forests 
“attract” rain, but climatology has no scientific explanation for that 

Meanwhile some references ...

Makarieva AM,GorshkovVG (2007) Biotic pump of atmospheric moisture as 
driver of the hydrological cycle on land .Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 

Makarieva AM, Gorshkov VG, Li BL (2006b) Conservation of water cycle on 
land via restoration of natural closed-canopy forests: Implications for 
regional landscape planning. Ecol Res 21:897-906for that believe 
(Stigter, 2010).

Spracklen, DV; Bonn, B; Carslaw, KS (2008) Boreal forests, aerosols and 
the impacts on clouds and climate, PHILOS T R SOC A, 366, 4613-4626. 

Martin, ST; Andreae, MO; Artaxo, P; Baumgardner, D; Chen, Q; Goldstein, 
AH; Guenther, A; Heald, CL; Mayol-Bracero, OL; McMurry, PH; Pauliquevis, 
T; Poschl, U; Prather, KA; Roberts, GC; Saleska, SR; Dias, MAS; 
Spracklen, DV; Swietlicki, E; Trebs, I (2010) SOURCES AND PROPERTIES OF 

Other very interesting papers

Hildebrandt, A. and E. A. B. Eltahir, (2006). Forest on the edge: 
Seasonal cloud forest in Oman creates its own ecological niche. Geophys. 
Res. Lett., 33, L11401, doi:10.1029/2006GL026022.

Hildebrandt, A, .M. Al Aufi, M. Amerjeed, M. Shammas and E. A. B. 
Eltahir,(2007). Ecohydrology of a seasonal cloud forest in Dhofar: 1. 
Field experiment.Water Resources Research, 43, W10411, 

Hildebrandt, A. and E. A. B. Eltahir (2007). Ecohydrology of a seasonal 
cloud forest in Dhofar: 2. Role of clouds, soil type, and rooting depth 
in tree-grass competition. Water Resources Research, 43, 

McAlpine CA et al. (2007) Modelling the impact of historical land cover 
change on Australia’s regional climate. Geophysical Research Letters 34, 
  http://dx.doi. org/10.1029/2007GL031524.

Macro scale

Long-term average precipitation by month (mm/day and in/day), based on 
1961-1990 data.
Mollweide projection.

sources: CRU CL 2.0 (New, M., Lister, D., Hulme, M. and Makin, I., 2002: 
A high-resolution data set of surface climate over global land areas. 
Climate Research 21: 1–25) and File:Tissot indicatrix world map 
Mollweide proj.svg by Eric Gaba.

In order to have have an idea of global precipitation spatial patterns, 
I ran the online tool proposed by the
Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) -
Data from over 6,000 rain gauge stations, and satellite geostationary 
and low-orbit infrared, passive microwave, and sounding observations 
have been merged to estimate monthly rainfall on a 2.5-degree global 
grid from 1979 to the present.

See: Global Precipitation Analysis Products of the GPCC,
U. Schneider, T. Fuchs, A. Meyer-Christoffer, B. Rudolf,
Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC),
Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach a. M., Germany, Nov. 2008.

Run model visualizer here

The World



Asia-Indian Subcontinent



Meso & micro-scale
This section will treat basic topography as well as common sense rules 
in ecological restoration regarding the preferred places.
I have to stress here that I am not a trained ecologist and as such I do 
not claim to understand scientifically the processes of ecological 
restoration. I intuitively adhere to the idea that restoring the health 
of ecosystems using plants involves little more than recreating a rich 
and diverse seedbed, and let Nature do the rest.
Seedballs do just that.
Once again, precipitation are very important. You can run a query on 
precipitation patterns at the city scale on Worldclimate(disclaimer: do 
not use this model for professional or important purpose, including but 
not limited to agriculture, academic research.

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