We spent the whole month of March moving the seed lab where we conducted our germination experiments, seed improvements, and where our millions of seeds sleep, to another much wider and brighter space.
The municipality of Pitres gave us the offices of the former Chacott ballet shoe factory for two years. This factory was built by Katsu Takida, a Japanese man in love with the Alpujarra, and its architecture is governed by the principles of Alpujarra construction. A factory surrounded by gardens and large trees, where there was even a dojo for the practice of Aikido. Although institutional mismanagement is leaving the place to a dilapidated state.
This is how we ended up setting up a Masanobu Fukuoka seedball factory in a Japanese ballet shoe factory in the middle of the Alpujarra. Even more, Takida got to know Fukuoka and it was he who brought Fukuoka’s first books to the alpujarra.
The collaboration agreement did not want to be renewed by the municipality of Pitres, so we were invited to leave before 1 April. But the synchronies of existence gave us the possibility to move the laboratory to the house that Takida built near Pitres. A huge “cortijo” surrounded by forest and ditches, with incredible views to feed the beauty of the soul.
Our new lab
The place that has selflessly ceded Takida to us was a storage room with 20 years of accumulations. We have been very busy adapting the place and organizing days of volunteer work to receive the help of all those people in the region who believe in what we do and support us whenever they can. Clean, paint, make plumbing, electricity, cement floor, install a wooden floor… Working with seeds requires certain hygiene protocols to ensure the validity of experiments.
It started April and we still have some tasks left. The new place is becoming wonderful to continue our research work with the seeds. The most delicate moment was the transfer of more than 1 million seeds from 40 species without breaking the cold chain for more than 24 hours so as not to interfere with the treatments of these species. It was exciting and we told it almost live through our stories on instagram.
The universe in a seed ball
In parallel with the arrangement of the new Lab, we unraveled several secrets of seed pelletization that remained difficult to discover due to the number of factors affecting a simple seed ball. It has been possible because a collaborator from Italy passed us a valuable book written by several New Zealanders who worked for 40 years in aerial planting of herbaceous for the regeneration of pastures. Having met patent deadlines, they decided to relate their experience in a wonderful book published in 2016: Seed inoculation, Coating and Precision Pelleting by Gerald M. Bennett & John M. Lloyd.
This book has confirmed and discarded a multitude of hypotheses about the seedball and saved us immense work. Thanks to the previous research work we had done, we were ready to understand the subtleties and details of the universe of pelletization. From Dronecoria we have a critical thinking about intellectual property, now, when the future of our planet depends on the restoration of ecosystems, even more. It seems that companies want to play at all or nothing, either we get rich out of this climate crisis or we all sink into the boat. This book has been the victim of multiple claims for the release of intellectual property secrets.
Of the many details that a seedball must have to promote germination, it is important to understand the need for air exchange between the seed and the outside. Traditionally balls have been designed from clay. The problem with this material is that due to its small particle size, the ball is so compact that it cannot enter or exit air. In this way, by not being able to breathe the seed at the start of germination, so it is inhibited. This problem can be minimized by adding straw and compost to the clay, although there is always a undesired degree of germination delay due to stress of lack of oxygen.
This type of clay ball and organic matter, has become popular, more for the attractive simplicity (sow without burying, tilling, or removing weeds) than for its (unproven) results. Fukuoka already warned us that instead of copying his techniques, we had to soak up his philosophy to find the techniques valid for our ecosystem.
How to get a seed to breathe inside of a ball? The reasoning of cement construction must be applied, but inversely. Strong mortars after drying, use sands with well-measured granulometry ranges so that there is no air gap left.
Mortar particles VS particles ideal for breathing
To achieve good breathing of the seed inside the ball, the materials we use must have a specific granulometry so that large pores remain between the particles.
To achieve this effect we must screen the materials within a narrow particle size range, exactly 150 to 300 microns. Larger particle sizes (from 450 microns depending on the material) do not stick well on the ball.
This simple idea allows to make seed balls up to 2-3 times the size of the seed without any inhibitory effect of germination. Among other advantages, in this way we manage to retain more moisture, add more beneficial materials and promote the speed of germination so that the seed can have more water available after rain. Isn’t that amazing?
We are on TV!
Incredible as it may seem, this month we had time to record a couple of video reports that we had been asked for, and one of them has been for Spanish National Television! We have been on the program Para Todos La2.
We also had a week of recordings for the Tierra Pura foundation, they came with a professional recording team to crumble the details of our project, soon we will publish their video that will surely be very special.
Going on Television has given us some visibility, so this month we have received more donations than ever before, thanks to Angel L Montero, Evan Daywell, Mario Redondo Cambra and Yuri Montero Cano. While we are still far from achieving economic sustainability through donations, it is the best way we have found to keep our research independent and open. This month, we also have a new Patreon! Yes! Thank you to Alaric Balibrera for supporting us! Alaric also intends to use drone reforestation technology in California and Sumatra, you can follow his Rainforest Rising project, on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
We take this opportunity to remind you that the way we have to fund (and publish) our research on aerial seed sowing with drones is through donations from people like you! It’s never too late to make a monthly contribution through Patreon or a one-time contribution. Thank you!!!
滝田克さん、あなたの協力がなければもっと大変なことになっていました。 たくさんの種を蒔いていきたいと思います。 応援してくださった皆様、本当にありがとうございました