[permaculture] Where - On Seedballs
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue May 31 23:20:53 EDT 2011
Where - 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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
AMAZONIAN AEROSOL PARTICLES, REV GEOPHYS, 48, . doi:10.1029/2008RG000280
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,
Long-term average precipitation by month (mm/day and in/day), based on
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
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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