The reforestation efforts around the globe based in seedlings are very challenging, the survival rate is low, the cost is high, it's slow, so the areas to reforest are relatively small, if we look to the millions of hectares that we need to restore, ecosystems needs a fastest solution to address large-scale reforestation, efficient, at low cost. Reforestation with seedlings are inefficient since the plants have a shock in the transplantation from nursery, they are not adapted to the new environment and require care for the first years. Due to climate change, the access to large quantity of seeds are poor, and the quality become very variable, in this moment seeds are very valuable key resource in reforestations. Direct sowing with coated seeds have a lot of potential, the problems to address in seed based restoration are mainly drought, seed predation, fungi attack, and others. Coating have a lot of improvements in success rate found in agriculture and international scientific papers. But formulas are difficult to replicate, are very dependent of the species and the ecosystems, the technology involved is expensive and inaccesible, available only in a few countries. Even with the proper seed coating machine, there is a lack of information, coating formulas are trade secrets of agriculture companies, and procedures require a lot of experience. Agriculture don't have the same requirements than forestry applications.
We would like to resolve the biggest problems around seed based restoration with this solutions: . 1. An open source seed coating machine easy to replicate or send/sell around the world. 2. An online platform/community to share coating formulas and proved results of the survival of the seeds. . 1. Accesible Coating Machine: We already successfully used for seed coating an standard cement mixer that are available in all countries of the world. The hardware that we want to create is an attachment composed with a powder feeder and a micro spray nozzle. This will allow any reforestation organizacion to create the seed-balls without previous experience, just pressing a button, and will be able to replicate any loaded formula, or creating new ones to share. This kind of machines can coat thousands of seeds in a few hours. . 2: Online Platform for Coating Formulas. The online platform will work as an online community and repository of seed coating formulas to create seedballs that will increase the survival of the seeds. With the last scientific innovations and a database, conservationist will found data of the components for every problem: from biodegradable hydrogels for dryness, capsaicin anti predation, natural anti fungics, or biochar for nutrient retention. Allowing sharing coating formulas between organizations and universities, will increase available data and science around seed based restoration, that could dramatically boost the efficiency of reforestations.
We assume that there is an interest in seed based restoration.
We assume that organizations would like to use a machine to coat thousands of the seed balls.
We assume that environmental organizations would like to share their recipes.
We assume that organizations would like to invest 800 USD in this machine.
We assume that reforestation organizations could have access to large quantities of wild native seeds.
The price is the first barrier. Professional coating machines are expensive (+10k USD). There are some chinese cheaper options (~3k $USD) but with the costs of shipping big machines, importation taxes, etc. Another barrier is the lack of knowledge of materials and coating formulas with their effectiveness, and the lack of knowledge and practice to perform seed coatings properly.
Identify the right components of the machine to use. Buy all the components. Design and test the powder feeder. Design and test the micro nozzle mechanism. Design the pneumatic mechanism. Program the Arduino. Test the whole coating procedure. Build a site/online database of coating formulas. Seed testing.
We need a compressor, 3Dprinters, pneumatic valves and material. We need somebody with experience in pneumatics to ask concrete doubts about the right materials. We need an external organization that could validate the use of the machine. We need a web programmer that could build this web service to upload/download the seed recipes. Share and promote the site and the machine to environmental organizations