Seed Bombing Deserts – Restoring Life to Arid Lands
A new research project has been initiated in the Department of Architecture and Landscape to investigate the potentials for seed bombing arid areas for restoration. The idea behind the project is to restore damaged dry lands , where native vegetation has been dramatically reduced by a number of factors including overgrazing and poor land management practices exacerbated by drought. This results in poor vegetation cover, loss of soil productivity and vegetation, diminution in biomass and biodiversity, loss of livelihoods, poverty and in the worst instances, starvation and malnutrition and migration.
The project involves researching different methods of delivering millions of native seeds to expansive dry land areas by dropping them in ‘packages’ by air. To do this Benz Kotzen is trying to involve the RAF and the British Army in trials in Kenya.
These trials will commence in July 2018; prior to this different delivery methods will be tested.
The research work will be updated on this website at regular intervals. Please contact Dr. Benz Kotzen, if you would like more information or would like to comment on this exciting project.
Visit to Kenya:
The laboratory trials investigating different types of seed bombs have just been followed through with a pilot study on the grounds of South Eastern Kenya University, in Kitui provence about 150km east of Nairobi. The University has been located specially in a drylands area of Kenya and specialises in drylands issues. Over 3000 seed bombs were prepared by 3rd and 4th year students studying in the agriculture and environmental schools with around 50 students participating. A further 5000+ seed bombs were purchased, (made out of biochar) and launched by students.The type of seed bomb and grass species was marked on a flag which was placed immediately next to the seedbeds so that when germination and sprouting occurs this can be noted. The see bombing occurred on the 17th of October. This time period was chosen as it occur just before the main rains which commences towards the end of October and end in December. The seed species used is Masai love grass (Eragrostis superba) and African fox tail grass (Cenchrus ciliaris). Both these species are not present in the seed bombed field and thus any siting of these species will mean that the see bombing has been successful.
Whilst at SEKU, preliminary discussions were held to initiate an aquaponics unit, using the expertise gained from the Aquaponics Lab. on the Stockwell Street roofs. Providing fresh produce all year round is a significant problem in the drylands of Kenya due to the lack of water. Aquaponics which produces both fish and vegetables using the same recirculated water has huge potential to create alternative livelihoods where produce can be sold at market and also prove food for individual families and communities. A further pilot study for underground dry river bed (wadi) water storage was initiated. The lack of available water in drylands limits economic and social capacities in drylands and this novel way of collecting and storing water has huge potential in arid and drylands areas in Kenya and around the world.