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easySeed® Tree Seed Coating for Surface Seeding

easySeed® tree seed coating is a process that offers innovative and sustainable protection of rare tree seeds. This enables promising reforestation with seeds instead of planting. It can also be used successfully in the renaturation of waste dumps and in landscaping.

The challenges from climate change and seed shortages

Climate changes, drought, storms, fires, insect calamities require an annual reforestation of more than 0.6 % of the forest area worldwide, more than 23 million ha annually. In Germany, the need for reforestation is already at 0.9 % with more than 300,000 ha annually.

The problem

Tree seed remains scarce seed. Reforestation based heavily on seedlings and planting is reaching its limits. Knowledge gained over decades about the disadvantages of planting due to root deformation and lack of deep root development leads to drought damage in the medium term and, above a certain tree height, to storm damage due to lack of stability.

A comprehensive LWF (Bavarian States Forest) long-term study states that seedling plantings show no root deformities only 19% of the time after 10 years, but plants from broadcast seed are free from root deformities 69% of the time:

Investigation result on root deformations. Root condition ten years after planting. Source: Bayerische Landesanstalt für Wald und Forstwirtschaft LWF: Berichte 37, Pflanzung – ein Risiko für die Bestandsstabilität? (Planting—a risk for stand stability?), 2002

Seeding has several advantages over planting. Therefore, seed should be used wherever possible. Seed creates taproots and ensures later stand stability as well as better drought resistance, but so far seed efficiency is lacking due to too high seed consumption in direct seeding.

However, fundamental challenges must be met:

  • Climate resilience: seed must be "equipped" to achieve better germination, better water supply, deep root development, and thus higher survivability
  • Seed efficiency: significant seed saving to be able to serve much more area with limited available seed
  • Cost-efficiency: seed must become easy to handle, area preparation and post-processing at lowest cost, easiest application possible by surface seeding (manual, mechanized, drone), protected from animal predation

easySeed® Tree Seed Coating as Solution

Since 2018, intensive work has been carried out on innovative and universal coating solutions for tree seeds.

The result is the easySeed® tree seed coating based on natural materials and without artificial polymers, nanomaterials, pesticides and microplastic components - now patented. Suitable for micro seeds as well as for medium and large tree seeds.

Single-Seed Pellets

The easySeed® seed coating from a certain size (TCW > 2) of, among others, spruce, pine, Douglas fir, beech, ash up to oak is always carried out as a single-seed pellet:

Larger seeds arouse the appetite of larger animals, including squirrels or even wild boars. The seed coat is designed to be perceived as soil by animals. For surface sowing, however, additional repellents against e.g. wild boars can be incorporated into the outer coating layer at low cost, so that no further area distribution is necessary.

Multi-Seed Pellets

Small seeds up to max. TCW 2 are preferably executed as multi-seed pellets:

Protective Coating

An essential component of the easySeed® technology is a voluminous mantle, with a number of protective and support functions, consisting essentially of silt, clay, loess, and sand.

"Thick" mantles are a particular problem for small and very small tree seeds. Most seeds are light germinators, so the mantle must allow light to pass through. In particular, small and medium sized seeds have very low sprouting forces, which must not be "nipped in the bud" by a thicker coat, especially with a firm outer skin for the necessary survival of the delivery mechanisms. Instant Seed developed a natural material-based technology that supports these driving forces after application.

At the same time, natural materials are 'built' into the casing in such a way that after application they become 'soft' in the casing via a 'micro-crack' effect, so that the driving forces are no longer hindered.

A 10-fold increase in weight increases the volume by a factor of approx. 3.5 and the diameter by a factor of 1.6. Example: 1 kg of birch seed becomes approx. 50 - 60 kg, 1 kg of Douglas fir becomes approx. 10 - 12 kg of easy-to-handle pellets.

Comparative tests with area seeding at Bayerische Staatsforst / LWF in 2022.

In einem vergleichenden Test durch die Bayerische Landesanstalt für Wald und Forstwirtschaft (LWF) wurde Anfang Mai 2022 Saatgut (Birke) auf Flächen in Oberfranken ausgebracht, unbehandeltes Saatgut in bewährter Aussaattechnik, sowie easySeed®-Saatgut. Nach fünf Monaten, darin eine heiße Trockenperiode von 10 Wochen mit nur 10 mm Niederschlag, wurde Ende September der Aufgang / Bestand durch LWF ausgewertet und ergab einen 5,4 mal höheren Bestand (39.829 statt 7.327 Birken) der Pellet-Variante gegenüber der bewährten Ausbringung unbehandelten Saatguts. Die easySeed®-Pellets waren als Standard bereits mit Schutz gegen Austrocknung und Wasserspeicher ausgestattet, so dass das Saatgut gegen Hitze und Trockenheit gut bestehen konnte. 

Application of birch pellets (left) as well as emergence after 5 months (right).

Seed and cost efficiency

Seed savings and low application costs enable a new dimension in land management. The seed savings increase with decreasing TCW of the seed and can reach more than 80% with small seeds according to first evaluations as the example with LWF (Bavarian States Forest) shows.   

The seed saving effect ranges from about 30% for larch and Douglas fir to 80% for very small seeds such as alder or birch. In addition to seed savings, further cost reductions come from ease of handling, surface seeding, and reduced pre- and post-processing.

The easySeed® coating significantly increases the mass of the seed, up to 80 times the TCW for small seeds, up to 18 times for larch, up to 12 times for Douglas fir and still up to 2 times the TCW for large seeds. The costs for the complex natural material coating are not inconsiderable, but are generally lower than the value of the seed saved, so that there is already a net benefit for the user.

The first degree of protection against animal damage is already provided by the coating materials clay, loess, sand and silt, which are perceived as 'soil' by birds, rodents and insects. A supplementary protection is possible for the endangered larger seeds such as acorns with the pellet technology, in which smothering agents can be introduced, for example, against wild boars with minimal dosage and high effectiveness.

Developed over many years and based on natural materials, easySeed® technology not only saves costs but creates available seed for additional areas, a decisive advantage and a milestone for future reforestation. And the technology saves seed in such a way that the necessary seed consumption is at the level of, for example, seedling/seedling cultivation.

The easySeed® solution is also interesting for private forest owners, who can now have their own collected seed and the species that are becoming more important in climate change, such as oak, beech, larch, and Douglas fir, grafted by an efficient multifunctional protective coating, even in small quantities, in such a way that they receive cost-effective seed with greatly improved prospects for good germination establishment.