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Does anyone have a pointer to
james_nicoll
UBC's seedling bomb research from the 1970s? This involved air-dropping seedlings.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

was that the one where they were trying to reseed mangroves on islands? If so, there was a tv program on it. Maybe NatGeo? or Smithsonian channels.

No, this was carried out in Canada. I remember the results were unpromising but the technology would have been primitive by modern standards.

Someone in the US, for example, seems to have realized you can use the same technology used to drop bombs very accurately into the midst of wedding parties can also be used to drop seedlings onto fertile ground and there seems to have been some recent work done to assist the seedling to survive the abrupt deceleration phase at the end of the fall.

I think they referred to the original Canadian idea in the island seeding, and it was interesting to see how they went about delivering the right package of seed and fertilizer, and constructing the payload to survive the drop.

Ah, the conversion of weapons tech to peaceful uses..

American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Transactions of the ASAE, volume 15, page 587, (1972). I applied a bit of Dead Sea Googling with this result:
Bombs of the above design were injection molded of polystyrene by Columbia Plastics Ltd., Vancouver, B.C., and were available for testing in May 1970.

To expedite the tests, 1-year- old Douglas fir seedlings were transplanted into 400 of the new bombs. These were loaded into the fertilizer hopper of a Cessna Agwagon B and dropped in May 1970. The test site was representative of logged and burned areas in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia, that is, it was steep, rocky, and covered in brush and heavy volumes of logging debris. Only 31 percent penetrated the ground and of these, only 14 percent had survived at the end of the growing season.

It was observed that because these seedlings had been transplanted into the bombs rather than having been grown in the bombs the soil mass was loose in the container and the roots were loose in the soil. As a result many seedlings were plucked from the containers as the bombs were released into the slipstream of the aircraft. The results, therefore, did not represent the potential of the system. It was observed that [...]

The inside walls of the moulds were lined with polyethylene film (Saran Wrap) to eliminate adhesion between the soil and the wooden moulds. Stabilizers were constructed by cutting 2-in. diameter polyvinyl chloride pipe into 1 in. sections. Four fins cut Irom the bombs described earlier were cemented at each quadrant on the outside face of the sectioned pipe. Two plastic struts, 6 in.[...]

These experiments prove that not only is the planting of seedlings from aircraft technically possible but that the technique has inherent advantages in terms of the biological requirements of forest tree planting. For example, the splitting of plastic bombs on impact permits root-egress. [...]

This is not as useful as a citation, but it may help some.

Edited at 2013-03-18 07:36 pm (UTC)

John Walters, "Aerial Planting of Tree Seedlings," Transactions of the ASAE, volume 15, pages 588-590.

(The ASAE is now the ASABE: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Most of the engineers I've met have, in fact, been biological.)