The birch is a star of the tree kingdom. A prolific seed producer with long-range dispersal, it makes a model pioneer tree. Unsurprisingly, afforestation campaigns in territories where the birch is native, turn to this species to get their projects off the forest ground.
But before trees can regenerate, their seeds must be nursed into healthy foundation seedlings. Nature’s strategy is to scatter as many seeds as possible, hoping that enough of them germinate and grow.
With the help of science and technology, forestry management bodies adopt a more efficient method that reduces the margin of error. Yet, finding viable seeds in a new lot is easier said than done.
Harvests contain undesired biomass, and processors must sift through weeds, chaffs, and debris to get to the birch seeds. And even then, not all seeds have the same potential. Some seeds are broken or empty, while others have a thicker pericarp and need special treatment.
Faced with this daunting exercise, the Dutch Forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer) sought the help of Seed Processing Holland. The specialist equipment company boasts decades of experience in seed cleaning and preparing high-quality lots.
Cleaning systems apply various techniques to separate the good from the bad. Gravity units, vibrating sieves, and magnetic sorters are only a few, but for this afforestation project, the experts at Seed Processing Holland recommended an air screen cleaning solution.
The harvest flows through precision screens, filtering out unwanted material and collecting viable seeds. This system separates on the basis of size and shape, but empty seeds and minute detritus still falls through the slots.
An air blast is ready for them at the bottom of the unit, blowing away everything except the viable seeds. The automated system is pre-configured for birch seeds so the commission operators can ensure accurate grading.
There is a forest in every seed. But if not carefully separated from contaminants, they won’t grow beyond a heap of biowaste. Thanks to the Seed Processing Holland, the Dutch birch tree has an accelerated path to reclaiming its lost territory.