An innovative company – Seedballs Kenya has pioneered a method of mass producing seedballs for low cost and efficient reintroduction of trees and grass species into degraded areas in Africa.
So, what exactly is a seedball?
Like the name implies, a seedball is simply a seed inside a ball of charcoal dust mixed with some nutritious binders. The biochar coating of the ball helps protect the seed within from predators such as birds, rodents and insects as well as from extremes of temperature until the rains arrive. Once they are soaked in rain, the seedball will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination. By wrapping the seeds, they are giving Mother Nature a helping hand by protecting them from predators and the sun until the appropriate natural environmental conditions trigger germination.
The motivation behind seedballs is to help reduce the cost of planting various useful indigenous plant species. Seedballs are inexpensive and can easily be dispersed over large areas which are often hard to reach or cover using traditional tree planting methods. The company uses indigenous seeds, supplied and certified by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). The seeds are not treated or altered in any way.
Direct seeding reduces transplant shock and helps the young trees grow stronger roots which in turn helps them grow into stronger trees. Seedballs company focus on the rehabilitation of land so damaged by man’s activity that natural reforestation is unlikely or not possible at all. Using seedballs allows the reintroduction of tree species that have been partially or completely removed from their original environment in a natural manner.
Seedballs Kenya is dedicated to being a sustainable and responsible company. Here are some ways that the company is achieving that:
– 100% Natural and 100% GMO free
The tree seeds used are all sourced from the Kenya Forestry Seed Centre which has a stock of seed for about 220 tree species collected from over 600 localities (provenances) around Kenya. They use this provenance data to guide them in their seed distribution efforts.
– Natural organic seed coating
They use salvaged charcoal dust from urban charcoal vending site in Nairobi- soluble nutritious organic binders promotes successful germination.
– Recycled packaging
They support several local small businesses. For instance, they source all of their paper bags & packaging materials locally and their printing is done by a small start up company in Nairobi.
– Low carbon manufacturing
The manufacturing process is low energy and fossil fuel free.
– Eco-friendly marketing
Seedballs Kenya focus on online marketing to reduce paper waste.
How are seedballs planted?
One of the most amazing things about seedballs is that they are so easy to use. All it requires are 3 steps: throw, wait & grow!
How much do seedballs cost?
Amazingly, each seedball only costs about 2 US cents! Talk about a great bargain! The company says that they are helping people understand that they do not need to spend millions in order to plant millions of trees.
In a world desperate for answers including to its deforestation problems, innovations like seedballs are worth celebrating. Globally, about one and a half acres of forest are cut down every second, about 15 billion trees are cut down each year increasing global greenhouse gas emissions by 12 to 17 percent annually. In Kenya alone, up to 5.6 million trees are cut down in a year. Solutions like seedball are essential especially in Kenya and other African countries where most of the rural homes rely on wood for fuel.
There is no doubt that the seedballs concept has been a huge success. Since September 2016, the company has distributed 10,931,000 seedballs and counting!
The world is in need of more solutions and ideas to save our forests.
What innovative ideas do you have?