The Y Ikatu Xingu Campaign brought together indigenous people, farmers, researchers, governmental, and non-governmental organizations seeking riparian forest restoration in the Xingu watershed, in west-central Brazil. Forest restoration is challenging in the region because of scarce nurseries, long distances,
and high costs associated with the usual technique of planting nursery-raised seedlings. This article describes mechanized direct seeding and compares it with the planting of seedlings, in terms of cost and tree densities at ages of 0.5 until 5.5 yr after planting. Direct-seeding was mechanized using common agricultural machines designed for sowing cereals or grasses, which were loaded with 200,000 seeds of native trees and 150,000 seeds of annual and sub-perennial legumes, plus 50–150 kg sand ha−1.
The Campaign restored more than 900 ha by direct-seeding and 300 ha by planting seedlings. The great demand for native seeds was met by the Xingu Seed Network, formed by Indians, small landholders,
and peasants, which commercialized 98 tons of native seeds and earned US$500,000 since 2006. Direct-seeding costs less per hectare than planting seedlings (US$1,845 ha−1 against US$5,106 ha−1), results in higher tree densities (2,500–32,250 trees ha−1 against 1,500–1,650 trees ha−1), is more practical, and creates layers of dense vegetation that better resembles natural forest succession.