Hydroseeding (or hydraulic mulch seeding, hydro-mulching, hydra-seeding) is a planting process which utilizes a slurry of seed, tackifier/polymer, wood fiber and/or paper fiber mulch, and fertilizer or organics. The mulch in the hydroseed mixture helps maintain moisture levels for the seed and seedlings. The slurry often has other ingredients including green dye and other additives. The slurry is created by an agitation process via jet or mechanical agitiation and is transported in tank, either truck or trailer mounted, and sprayed over prepared ground in a uniform layer by hose or fireman mount. Aircraft application, such as helicopters and airplanes, may also be used on larger areas such as burned wilderness after a fire! Such application may contain only a soil stabilizer to control erosion and avoid introducing any potential non-native plant species.
Hydroseeding is an alternative to the traditional process of dry broadcasting or sowing seed. In many cases this process promotes quicker germination and assists by inhibiting soil erosion.
Hydroseeding is used to seed grass on commercial sites (highways/motorways etc.), golf courses, lawns, and large revegetative areas inaccessible or unsuitable for conventional methods. Starting a lawn by hydroseeding is considerably cheaper than laying sod/turf and quicker than using conventional dry broadcasting of seed. Along with turf/lawn applications, hydroseeding is also used to spread mixtures of wildflower and tree/shrub seeds for erosion control. Another process called sprigging (or hydro-sprigging) contains a slurry of stolons or rhizomes instead of seed.
The first commercial hydroseeder was invented in United States in the early 1950s in order to efficiently shoot seed and fertilizer over broad areas. The process is now used throughout the world, arriving in the United Kingdom in the 1960s.
Straw mulching was put on the map in the late 1940's with Charles Finn's "Mulch Spreader". Hydroseeding was developed by a gentleman from the State of Connecticut Highway Department. He found that the method of mixing and suspending seed in water could be sprayed onto steep highway slopes. Later Charles Finn adapted that technology to a project he was working on for the West Virginia Turnpike. He built and commercially marketed the "HydroSeeder", a two piece machine that consisted of a 1000 gallon mixing tank and towed a spray platform, pump and engine. The idea was to have two mixing tanks and one spray unit for the purpose of an ongoing process that did not have to wait for water to fill.
Since fiber sales were not as robust as International Paper had hoped, the fiber division was cancelled. Weyerhauser Company and Conwed Corporation saw an opportunity and both created fiber divisions picked up where International Paper left off. Conwed then produced a 100% aspen wood fiber "Hydro Mulch" in a tightly packed, 3 section bale, reinforced paper bag shipping it in rail car quantities from their plant in northern Minnesota. Weyerhauser as well produced a 100% Hemlock wood fiber "Silva Fiber" in Washington State also shipping in rail car quantities. Their product was loosely packed in a paper bag and could be easily broken up into the hydroseeder. Weyerhauser also produced a paper product "PFM", in New Jersey, from ground cardboard. This product was packaged and compacted and had to be broken up in order to get into slurry suspension. PFM worked very well in Jet Agitated machines, such as the "Reinco". The Reinco "Hydrograsser" and the successful "Power Mulcher" joined this rapidly growing industry about this same time.
For some historical reference below are some patents that were issued:
U.S. Pat. No. 2,878,617, issued Mar. 24, 1959 to Charles O. Finn, discloses a hydraulic apparatus for seeding and fertilizing. This particular apparatus includes: a tank having an agitator positioned therein for suspending solids in an aqueous solution, and a pump for delivering the suspension to a nozzle unit for distribution over the ground surface. The apparatus is shown mounted upon a land vehicle for large scale operations.
Walter J. Reinecker was the founder of Reinco, existing still today. - Straw Mulcher and Jet Agitated Hydroseeding Equipment Manufacturers.
James C. Lucore, II manufactured the "Little Squirt" hydroseeder. Little Squirt was made from about 1986 - March of 1990. He had a role in both Easy Lawn's and Turbo Turf's entry into the industry.
Ray Badger is the Founder of Turbo Turf Technologies - Jet and Mechanically Agitated Hydroseeding Equipment Manufacturers.Bob Lisle is the Founder of Easy Lawn Inc. - Jet and Mechanically Agitated Equipment Manufacturers.
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