BR Engineers a Low-Tech Seed Pelletizer

Seed pellets are an effective tool for increasing seed establishment in arid lands regions, where insect predation is high and environmental conditions may range in the extremes. While small batches may be made by hand in a number of hours, large-scale production is currently economically prohibitive because of the cost of commercial seed coaters or pelletizers.

How do we produce seed pellets in large quantities? Scouring the internet produces few results, and so BR enlisted its volunteer engineers and interns to develop a low-tech, low-cost pelletization method. What they came up with is truly impressive: A bicycle powered seed-pelletizer reminiscent of a cement mixer to evenly coat large amounts of seed with a mixture of compost and clay!

Materials for the pelletizer cost under $120 total and included:

  • Recycled bicycle (donated)
  • Tire innertube (donated with the bike)
  • 30 gallon food-grade barrel with fitted lid attachment – $64 (these may also be found for cheaper on craigslist, if you live in a metro area)
  • 2×4″ Plywood and Hardware- $30
  • Casters – $20
  • Recycled, dynamic climbing rope (donated)
  • Engineering savvy – priceless!

The engineering process is far from finished, and requires further examination of myriad component parts to the machine, in particular of the recipe used within the barrel to encourage adequate and even coating, and uniformity.

Read the report by Ashlee Simpson, ACE intern and chief engineer.

Funding for the research and development of this effort is provided through a number of avenues, but is primarily reliant on contributions from the BLM and NPS. We are eager to pursue other funding opportunities to continue this important (and cool!) work. You can even donate to BR online to directly impact our growth in this field. If you are interested in funding our R&D efforts, please use our Contact Us page.

Thank you to our volunteer engineer Alex Johnson, without whom this effort may not have been possible!





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