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Cover tumbleweeds with the seeds of other plants and set them loose.
  (+7, -2)
(+7, -2)
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A desert is an important part of a planetary ecology, so one should be careful about deciding to terraform it. However, there are deserts that have been man-made or whose growth has been accelerated by humans. If we took tumbleweeds and sprayed them with a mixture of seeds of drought-resistant plants and some variety of organic fertilizer-enriched adhesive (maybe just regular elmer's glue?) that would dissolve with weathering and especially with water (rain or even just rolling into a river or water hole. Since the whole point to the design of a tumbleweed is to roll along with the wind and lodge in any crevice or low-lying sheltered area that is likely to hold some water and nutrients, the tumbleweeds would hopefully automatically deliver their payload of terraforming seeds to such locations. If we were worried about tumbleweeds outcompeting the seeds they'd delivered, I am sure that we could either use old tumbleweeds that had already delivered their seeds or use biodegradable substances to create artificial tumbleweeds. Perhaps those odd "biodegradable" soybean and cellulose based "plastics"? Yes, I know tumbleweeda are already drought resistant, but they are hard to eat. Also, spiky to the touch. The hope here is that over decades, drought-resistant plants would provide organic matter that would change the quality of the soil to a more humus-rich water-retaining soil, inviting a whole different eco-system of animals to come and live there, and eventually changing the climate of the area. Read Frank Herbert's Dune series for an idea. And I have to disagree with [Zen_Tom] - I have wandered through several midwestern and South American desert and desert-like areas. There ARE crevices and rocks and low-lying areas, even canyons and ravines and arroyos for these plants to catch on. More thoughts?
submitinkmonkey, Mar 10 2005


       Aren't tumbleweeds already drought-resistant plants, making this baked by your own form of delivery?
Worldgineer, Mar 10 2005

       I like the idea, but one problem with deserts is their general lacking of crevices and sheltered spots.
zen_tom, Mar 10 2005

       [submitinkmonkey] has a good point. If we ever get into such endeavors on a large scale, low cost delivery systems will be important.   

       We might have to craft the "tumbleweeds" so that they are compact and easy to ship, then have a mechanism that develops them to full size and liberates them to the winds.
normzone, Mar 11 2005

       hoberman sphere makes this easy to drop from planes   

       nifty idea
beanangel, Jun 30 2008


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