[permaculture] Restoration projects - Worldwide - On Seedballs

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue May 31 23:22:40 EDT 2011

Restoration projects - Worldwide - On Seedballs

On Seedballs

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Restoration projects - Worldwide

Masanobu Fukuoka traveled the world with seedballs. Many sprouts.

This is probably the most important page of this website. It shows 
people around the world applying Masanobu Fukuoka's seedballs in 
ecological restoration projects. Gathering information is a matter of 
time and serendipity.


     1 The world of Seedballs
     2 AFRICA
         2.1 Kenya
             2.1.1 The RainMaker project
         3.1 Canada
         3.2 United States
             3.2.1 Hawaii- Leeward Haleakala¯ Watershed Restoration 
         4.1 Argentina
     5 ASIA
         5.1 India
         5.2 Thailand
             5.2.1 Prachuap Khiri Khan - Kuibiri forest
         5.3 Japan
     6 EUROPE
         6.1 - Greenbelt Southern Europe presents the "Greenbelt for 
Southern Europe" initiative.
         6.2 Greece
             6.2.1 The Natural Farming Center
         6.3 Spain
             6.3.1 Sierra de Parayas restoration project, Cantabria
     7 OCEANIA
         7.1 Australia
             7.1.1 The Nari-Nari tribal council restoration project, New 
South Wales.
             7.1.2 The Upper Torrens Land Management Project, South 
             7.1.3 Greening Australia-Lower Cotter Catchment Project, ACT
         7.2 New-Zealand
             7.2.1 Restoration using Akeake seedballs in Marlborough Sounds

The world of Seedballs
View Seedballs worldwide projects in a larger map


     Greening The Desert: Applying natural farming techniques in Africa. 
An interview with Masanobu Fukuoka, by Robert and Diane Gilman, in 
Sustainable Habitat (In Context #14), Autumn 1986, Page 37.



     The RainMaker project

     Afforestation using seed-enclosing clay balls in Kenya a Japanese 
NGO, the Yokohama Art Project by Enokida Riyuu'

     Species list
     Casavina equisetizolia,
     Cassia siamia,
     Cassia spectanilis,
     Croton megalocaspus,
     Cupressus lushanica,
     Leucaina leucocephala,
     Makuhamia Lutea, S
     esbania Sesban,
     pathodea campanulete,
     Tamarindus indica.

     A total of 22kg of seeds were use for the project mix.

      RainmakerProject ケニア2007

RainmakerProject ver2.0 SATOYAMA SYSTEM


     Project brochure


      RainmakerProject ver. 1.0
     The Rainmaker Project[破]

The Rainmaker Project 2 [破]
United States

     Hawaii- Leeward Haleakala¯ Watershed Restoration Partnership

     "The Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership (LHWRP) 
was formed in June, 2003, and consists of 43,175 acres owned by two 
State agencies, one Federal agency, and eight private landowners. 
Non-land owning partners include the U.S. Geological Survey and Living 
Indigenous Forest Ecosystems (LIFE)."

     In her now famous book “The Polynesian Family System in Ka-’u, 
Hawai’i”, noted Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui illustrated the 
original Hawaiian concept of forest types that scalloped the mountain 
slope from the coast where most people had their habitations through the 
various forest types to the high mountain summit above treeline. As we 
do now, early Polynesian settlers utilized mountain areas as a source 
for their water, both for human use and agriculture. They harvested 
mountain plants and animals for food, utilitarian items such as cordage 
and barkcloth, for ornamental, ceremonial, and spiritual items such bird 
feathers for featherwork, some of which are among the finest ever 
produced by humans. Mountains were also the source of valuable 
hardwoods, such as koa. Koa (...) trees are a Hawaiian endemic species 
without near relatives in the central and eastern Pacific. Amazingly, 
the nearest relatives of koa occur in Australia and the Mascarene 
Islands (A. heterophylla Willd.) in the Indian Ocean (...). To settling 
Hawaiians, the high islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago must have 
appeared as the ultimate gift from their ‘akua (Gods). Of all the gifts 
that awaited them, fresh water, large flightless birds for immediate 
food, brightly colored red, yellow, and green birds, and thick, verdant 
forests, massive koa trees up to 35 m (115 feet) tall were among the 
most significant.  From these koa, Hawaiians continued the ocean 
navigating tradition of their ancestors, hewing massive wa’a (canoe) 
from koa logs dragged off high mountain slopes. Though once large 
abandoned, the sport of outrigger canoe racing has resurged and occupies 
an important and characteristic part of Hawaiian culture now practiced 
throughout the world. Though modern canoes are predominantly made of 
fiberglass, fittingly, the State Championship rules of the Hawaiian 
Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) dictate that all participating canoes 
must be constructed of koa.

     Hawaiians could have scarcely fathomed that within the next 1500 
years that these forests, at least on the leeward sides of the high 
mountains like Haleakala¯, would become so degraded that many of our 
modern world would have no idea that they had ever been there at all. 
That not only would the great trees be gone but in most areas every 
other species of understory shrubs, ferns, and mosses as well. With them 
the birds, from the largest of geese to the smallest of sweet-singing 
songbirds would also disappear.
     It is estimated that on leeward Haleakala¯, less than 5% of these 
forests, and these in tatters, with European and African grasses 
flooding their now well lit understory. In some areas, not only are the 
great trees gone, but this loss of once thick cloud forests has 
triggered the loss of 5-8 feet of tall soil, leaf litter and forest 
duff. It was these areas of south Haleakala¯ such as Nu’u and Na¯kula 
where barren, red soil ridges devoid of nearly all vegetation that 
former State of Hawai’i head forester Michael Buck called the State’s 
“biggest embarrassment”. That would be the case if that were the end of 
the history of this region."

     - Excerpt of Leeward Haleakala¯ Watershed Restoration Partnership 
Management Plan

     Photo: One of the last remnant patches of the native hardwood koa 
(Acacia koa) remaining in the southeastern corner of the Leeward 
Haleakala¯ Watershed Restoration Partnership (LHWRP) in the Nu’u 
District, now part of Haleakala¯ National Park (A.C. Medeiros photo).

     As read on the Leeward Haleakala¯ Watershed Restoration Partnership 
Management Plan,under Phase One Action Plan 2006-2010, Objective 3, 
Develop Koa restoration technology:

     "(The field crew) will build six small exclosures to exclude 
ungulates in order to conduct experimental trials to develop restoration 
methodology evaluating the use of clay (seedballs) compared to 
recommended stocking level planting and controls."

     When I asked A.C Medeiros, (Haleakala Field Station (HFS) of the 
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/Biological Resources Division 
(BRD)/Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center (PIERC) program field 
leader; specialist in Hawaiian natural history; currently in Ph.D. 
program with Department of Botany, University of Hawaii) if he had any 
feedback on the efficacy of seedballs in Koa's restoration he answered 
wisely: 'not yet...'

     Meanwhile you can read contiguous project  progress reports, in 
Biology: Status and Trends of Biological Resources Program. Dry Forest 
Restoration on Leeward East Maui


     Prachuap Khiri Khan - Kuibiri forest

     Teachers and students of a local technical college have joined 
hands molding seeds into balls to be air-dispensed, in order to 
rejuvenate the forest of the Kuiburi district. Prachuap Khiri Khan 

     Prachuap Khiri Khan Technical College students and teachers have 
mixed several types of seeds with dirt and molded them into balls in 
order for them to be dispensed through the air. A total of 99,999 balls, 
each of which contained 3 seeds, have been molded.

     The activity is under the Electricity Generating Authority of 
Thailand (EGAT)’s campaign to plant trees in honor of HM the King. One 
million trees are targeted to be planted in Prachuab Khiri Khan 
Province. According to the provincial governor, the Air Force 5 will 
dispense one million seed-balls containing 19 species of plant that have 
been molded by the students and teachers. The activity is to conserve 
the plants and animal species and revive the greenery at the Kuiburi 
district’s forest, in line with HM the King’s initiatives and concerns 
for the nature and forest.


     - Greenbelt Southern Europe presents the "Greenbelt for Southern 
Europe" initiative.


         Masanobu Fukuoka in Arnissa, Greece, 1998.

         Follow Masanobu Fukuoka on his 1998 visit to Arnissa in Greece, 
where he inspires locals young and old in an effort to sow seedballs 
across 10,000 hectares of rocky Grecian countryside.

         The Natural Farming Center


             Over the past seventeen years, beginning in 1993, the 
Natural Farming Center, made and broadcasted seedballs with the intent 
to re-plant trees and gardens on some bare mountains of Greece and the 
Mediterranean countries in general. Masanobu Fukuoka vision was to 
create a green belt from Portugal to Iraq, Iran, to stop the expansion 
of deserts in Central Europe. The Natural Farming Center started with a 
small plantation on an area of 5-10 acres with a positive result, and in 
1998 - in the presence of Fukuoka – they organized the largest ever 
seedballs project conducted on Earth propagating them on more than 5000 
hectares. Despite limited success (due to many factors such as 
overgrazing by cattle shoots, weather conditions, etc.), they have 
proved that this method can be applied broadly and has a very small cost 
- around 200-300 euros per hectare, including the cost of seeds, clay 
and food for volunteers (versus 100 000 for ‘conventional’ methods used 
in ecological restoration).

             They have continued to organize seedballs propagation on 
hundreds of acres every year since then, always working on a voluntary 
basis, improving over the years, the quality of the seedballs and adding 
new material, so that they could get better results.

         How and what

             Until 2004, they propagated round seedballs of different 
sizes, using their manufacture powder clay, water spray and mixer: with 
very good results when it comes to annuals, and the less good - if it 
was a forests and fruit trees. So, in 2005, they experienced another 
kind of ‘seedballs’, sliding sausages of clay and seeds, and then 
slicing them into thick disks - see the relevant photos and video - and 
now, after five years of cultivation in Greece, Europe and South 
America, they are confident to say that this type of clay disks actually 
gives excellent results. They have also added to the mixture of cotton 
fillers (with short fibers), straw, peat, and most recently - coconut 

             Short-fibered cotton is good stuff, if you can get them 
easily, but once they got a problem with transgenic cotton and also 
cotton the fine cotton dust, so they gave-up using it altogether. Straw 
is beautiful, but one should be used with care because it can cause 
mold. To prevent the development of mold inside the clay caps and, 
therefore, damage to the seeds, they dry the clay capsules in the hot 
sun, and for this reason, they prepare them in August or September 
(mid-to end summer in Greece.

             Coconut fibers (copra), in their opinion, is a great 
material, for they have helped forming very strong clay disks that do 
not break when cast on the hard soil even if they thrown from planes and 
helicopters. They remain intact for several months after propagation.

             The Natural Farming Center also uses Geolayt (geolite), a 
natural mineral that can absorb twice its weight in water, during wet 
weather and offer it to germinating plants.

             They reckon that adding small amounts of organic material 
that may inoculate, beneficial micro-organisms and fungi native from the 
propagation are is also very important. Their seed mixes, is generally 
composed of vegetable seeds, grains, legumes (green manure), plants, 
fruit trees and forest trees.


             Seedballs propagation time is from September to late 
October in southern Greece and September in northern Greece, always up 
to the beginning of the rainy season.


             Until now, scientists and research institutions were 
generally negatively disposed toward this method, always under the 
pretext that they are introducing in the environment exotic species, 
which is not the case. They viewed seedballs as a child's game. But this 
year, the National Forest Research Institute in Athens has decided to 
test this method on an experimental basis for three consecutive years, 
and if results are positive, they will offer it as a valid method for 

             This is a positive step, but the Natural Farming Center 
feels that it will take a long time before they introduce it into 
practice, and at that time nature destroy rapidly. The Natural Farming 
Center believes that we, ordinary people, must act as soon as possible. 
They travel all over the world, organizing seminars on seedballs to 
create natural farms, gardens with simultaneous production of vegetables 
on the basis of self-maintenance and renewal, re-greening deserts. They 
always work on a voluntary basis, and share information without 
involving money, because they  believe: we have everything for free from 
life and everyone should give it to others for free.

         The Near Future

             Small groups in Greece, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Chile, 
Uruguay, Peru and other countries propagate seedballs, working in an 
attempt to restore the forest, and in March 2011, the Natural Farming 
Center intend to carry out simultaneous actions in Argentina, Chile, 
Uruguay, proving in this way, that the heart moves things, not money.

         “Let us, each and all together we will take part in the work of 
God. Let us turn the land into a green paradise” - Masanobu Fukuoka

         Panaiotis (Panos) Manikis speaking

         Center for Natural Agriculture
         (Natural Farming Center)
         e-mail: info at naturalfarming.eu

         Natural farming in Greece


         Seed pellets to save Mt Pendeli

         Forest fire damage near Anthousa to be remedied with Manasobu 
Fukuoka's Natural Farming method, by Yvette Varvaressou - Kathimerini.

         Making hay with clay

         Hands On - A Growing Trend, Earth Report, by TVE (the 
Television Trust for the Environment).


     Sierra de Parayas restoration project, Cantabria

     RIA-Realización de Iniciativas Alternativas is a nonprofit 
association based in the town of Camargo (South Bay of Santander), 
Cantabria, and whose principal objective is to conserve and restore the 
coastal environment, understanding the environment and the people in it: 
society, culture, heritage and nature.

     They work in the
     Monte Sierra de Parayas.

     In November 2009 they planted over 1,500 oak acorns using ‘nendo 
dango’ or seedballs, interestingly rolled in grasses seeds (see video).


         Bushcare WA 37842 Seedball Kickoff! O’Connor $8,295.

         The Nari-Nari tribal council restoration project, New South Wales.

         (Please Note: Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island peoples are 
advised that this web site may contain images of deceased persons.)

         The Nari Nari Tribal Council is a not-for-profit Aboriginal 
organisation, committed to the preservation and protection of Culture 
and Country. They manage 11,300 hectares of Riverine land 35km west of 
Hay (NSW).

         Toogimbie Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was declared in March 
2004 and covers around 4,600 hectares of the northern portion of Nari 
Nari lands.

         IPA funded activities include improving wetland inundation, 
replanting vegetation, and controlling weeds and feral animals like 
foxes, rabbits and pigs. Areas that have been fenced to keep stock and 
feral animals out are showing improvements in the level of cover and in 
environmental health. The Tribal Council aims to continue timber 
harvesting using sustainable methods, for community use. The location 
and details of important cultural sites are also being recorded. These 
sites are being protected by removing stock from the area, controlling 
visitor access and revegetating the sites to repair the feral animal damage.

         Overall revegetation works are another major IPA activity. In 
2005 alone, 2.5 kilograms of local seed was collected, 8,500 seedlings 
were planted, 8,000 clay seedballs distributed and 4,000 plants 
propagated. The Tribal Council has also erected bird hides in the 
wetlands, and constructed a bush tucker garden to improve community 
access to native foods and medicinal plants.

         "The seed balls proved to be great success"."The outcome of the 
trial proved with enough moisture the clay seed balls will be 
successful". (personal communication).

         Ian Woods - Chairman
         Tara Dixon - Secretary
         PO Box 75,
         Hay, NSW, 2711
         Ph: 02 6993 2243
         Fax: 02 6993 2290
         narinari at bigpond.net.au

         The Upper Torrens Land Management Project, South Australia.

         Since their inception in 1998, over 150 landowners have 
participated to improve their properties and income. The Upper Torrens 
Land Management Project (UTPLMP)has assisted them to address issues such 
as: soil erosion, salinity and acidity, pasture establishment and/or 
improvement, fencing for dams and watercourses, re-vegetation with 
native trees and shrubs, protection of native flora and fauna, creation 
of habitat for birds and native animals, and the maintenance of creeks 
and watercourses. Properties have varied in size from 1Ha to 1000 Ha, 
and issues addressed include stock exclusion fencing for watercourses, 
weed control, pest animal control, woody weed removal and re-vegetation 
with native species.

         In 2000, the UTPLMP use seedballs in a trial.


                     Stephen Anderson, who covers the revegetation 
program of the Upper Torrens Land Management Project recalls that 
"Between 1997 and 1999, the Upper River Torrens Landcare Group made and 
tested seed balls on its demonstration sites. A variety of seed types 
were used and the balls were scattered over the ground (prepared with 
knockdown herbicide) and left to their own devices.  Given the very 
light, sandy soils and late spring germination of weeds, it would seem 
likely that seedlings were outcompeted if they germinated at all. No-one 
recorded germination or survival results attributable to the trial. No 
further attempts were made as reasonable success was achieved using the 
standard methodology for had direct seeding in similar environment".

         Media coverage

         ABC website story

         Upper Torrens Land Management Project
         Mount Pleasant Natural Resource Centre
         132 Melrose Street
         Mount Pleasant SA 5235
         Telephone: (08) 8568 1876
         Facsimile: (08) 8568 2699

         Greening Australia-Lower Cotter Catchment Project, ACT

         Greening Australia (GA) mission is 'to engage the community in 
vegetation management to protect and restore the health, diversity and 
productivity of our unique Australian landscapes'.
         'With a network of over 350 staff in locations across the 
continent, Greening Australia lives and works with people from remote, 
regional and metropolitan communities'.

         "On Sunday 5 April, 2009 community volunteers joined ABC 
Canberra, the ACT Government and Greening Australia in making 12,500 
clay balls embedded with native seeds. The volunteers then distributed 
the clay balls over 14.5 hectares of former pine plantation in the 
Pierces Creek area to continue the rehabilitation of the Lower Cotter 

         "We have been monitoring the success of the seedballs, but at 
stage haven't produced a formal report on the outcomes. In general we 
have found that slightly less than 50% have successfully germinated, and 
that grass species have been much more successful than either tree or 
shrub species. We have currently scaled back our seedballing efforts and 
will begin a new smaller scale scientific trial of the seedballs in an 
attempt to increase tree and shrub success. If our monitoring team does 
produce a report on the seedballing, I will pass this on to you"

         Graham Fifield confirmed on August 18th 2010 that GA is 'very 
much in the experimental phase at the moment.  After initial difficulty 
settling on the ingredients for the balls, [GA is]about to embark on a 
monitored trial (hence different colours).  They will be planted in the 
next 1-2 months.

         See GA document : Introducing … Seed Balling : Another 
revegetation option

         Graham Fifield
         Project Manager
         Greening Australia Capital Region

         Ian Rayner

         Lower Cotter Catchment Project Officer

         Greening Australia Capital Region

         Kubura Place Aranda ACT

         PO Box 538 Jamison Centre ACT 2614



         Restoration using Akeake seedballs in Marlborough Sounds

         Andrew Mac Mahon is a self employed weed and pest control 
expert living in New-Zealand. This is what Andrew told me when I asked 
him questions "on seedballs" :

         "Seed balls were something I experimented making with my own 
boys (ages 4 and 7) help. We used a simple recipe from the Kiwi 
Conservation Club kids magazine(and I looked up other sites on Internet) 
= seeds, compost/worm

         castings and clay. The clay was sourced from a bank in a local 
stream - nothing fancy, just grey/brown clay.

         In NZ we have a first generation  regrowth plant called gorse. 
It's everywhere waste land is. Native will given time (15-25 years) out 
grow gorse and it makes a good nursery plant. If I was to restore gorse 
waste land seedball would work well but the slips needed ground cover 
before the weeds grow.

          The bare land left by the slips was letting lots of light to 
the native bush. [Also], weeds such as Old Man's Beard and Banana 
Passionfruit and wilding pines like high light conditions.

         The race was on to plant native plants to close this light 
before weeds took hold. I planted root trainers (small native plants 
30cm high with a good root system $3 nz each, $500 worth) to get a good 
head start on the weeds. The seedballs was an after thought or experiment.

         I only used Akeake seeds.The akeake seeds are easy to collect 
locally, and I know germinate easily in our local conditions. Seeing as 
it was the first time using this method, I just used the one type of seed.

         The extensive road slip I was trying to replant was steep 
difficult to access, another reason to try seed balls. In fact, the seed 
balls weren't perfectly round which was good so they didn't roll back 
down the hill!

         We had lots of fun making them, and will try a different seed 
mix next time. I only have a small one-man business to help people in 
the Marlborough Sounds keep their land weed and pest free. Replanting 
with natives and 'seedballs' is only a small, but important part of my work.

         I'm heading out today along the route where the seed balls have 
germinated well, so I'll take some photos to send to you. Pity I don't 
have any 'before' ones to compare with."

         Here are the pictures:

         Thanks Andrew !

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