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Fireside with Infused SeedBall CEO, Talby Mckay

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Talby McKay, the CEO of ISB, about their innovative reforestation project taking place on farmland in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The project is focused on using ISB's exclusive bio-carbon-infused SeedBall technology to significantly enhance tree growth - up to 4 times the usual rate - with a success rate of 97%. This will be the first VCS ARR project in Central and Western Canada, and it is a Metis-owned company.

Fireside with Infused SeedBall CEO, Talby Mckay

Can you tell us the major benefits to using SeedBalls for reforestation/afforestation?

We use the term "bigger, better, faster" to describe the benefits of our product. Seedballs grow bigger trees, with more success and better properties for the soil. They also have faster germination and early-stage development.

Day 14 of SeedBall propagation

What makes the seedballs novel or unique compared to other reforestation/afforestation technologies?

What makes our SeedBalls unique is the ingredients and how they interact with each other.

We use top-grade soils with higher nutrients, including our BioCarbon ingredient, which is one of only three certified biocarbons in the world. This is what sets us apart, aside from the patent. 

Another benefit is that our SeedBalls can be used in any geographic location, and we have done extensive testing in a variety of conditions, such as desert-like conditions and high elevations, as well as testing in mangroves and rice paddy fields. The key is selecting the appropriate species for the location. Our seedballs only promote growth and do not inhibit it.

Can you tell us about any changes or new developments unfolding at ISB over the past three to six months? As we approach the final auction date, what challenges have been faced and overcome?

We've had a lot of exciting developments. Our programs have become more defined, and we've been able to move into the manufacturing stage. In the early stages of the ISB program, sales were not a problem because people were interested in buying trees. However, our plant design produces a large number of SeedBalls which led us to take on bigger projects in order to optimize our manufacturing process. This is different from most programs that start small and grow. We had to start big. 

Are SeedBalls available at a retail level?

Our retail product is called "Crazeegrow" which is a trademarked and patented product that will be available in retail stores like Home Depot and Home Care centers soon. We'll also be doing some online sales through third-party companies and vendor-associated companies that we do business with. As an example, you'll soon be able to buy SeedBalls through WestJet's website.

How densely can the SeedBalls be spaced? Assuming it depends on the seed…

Depends on the species, correct. We can be very dense with our planning systems or very selective, it all depends on the project and what we are actually planting.

Okay, a little bit about the production facility in Edmonton,  you've got a lot of space to work with there, but what can you tell me about its current state and where you could be in the future?

The plan for this first facility here in Edmonton is to one day have about 22 lines going. That's the space we've allowed for, and what we are capable of in the current space. (For reference, one line can produce ~600,000 SeedBalls per day). The harder end of it is the packing, warehousing, and logistics. This is why we're looking at multiple facilities, in different spots around the world, to be better prepared.

Does the SeedBall have a shelf-life?

So the shelf life is quite impressive.

The carbon we use in the SeedBall (the main ingredients) has a 37,000-year shelf life. So if we can keep the ball in a fairly normal condition, it'll last forever. It’s the seed that goes into the ball that you need to worry about.

It's a very fascinating product. I have one in my living room here. We're thinking about trying something tropical and seeing what happened. How would a palm tree do in Toronto?

I bet you it will work. At least, it will germinate and go as far as the climate allows. How high does your heat go?

Not high enough... What are some of the pushbacks or issues you’ve had trying to convince landowners to adopt your SeedBall program?

The main feedback we have is regarding the credit programs themselves. And if they're government controlled, we run into this a lot. People don't trust their government. And what I found is… and it doesn't matter what side of the aisle you sit on, working with the government can be an expensive headache

The key for us…first is to make it very clear that this is absolutely not government controlled. Second is the fact that this is globally controlled through a market and through the UN protocol. It’s a global effort after all, backed by a growing consensus of contributors. Really, the only way this program stops or doesn't make sense is if every human being in the world woke up one day and agreed that climate change wasn't right and was not real.

Our company, ISB, has accessed the best protocols and created the best protocols for planting trees. The program has validity and will be recognized by others. We have partners worldwide and do not believe that these programs need to be government-initiated.

Some would argue that government involvement is necessary.

We've structured our program so that our partners are in control of their own credits, and we don't control them. We believe that if someone wants government involvement, they should pay their taxes and do it themselves. Our program doesn't rely on government subsidies, and we hope to make the government our client in the future.

Has the Canadian government provided any assistance?

ISB is part of a 2 billion tree program and has been accepted into some natural resource programs, but we didn't want to be a subsidized government program during our startup phase. We want to ensure that our program, whether it has to do with carbon credits or not, doesn't need subsidies from the government. We hope that governments will be involved in the future, but we would rather have the government as our client than be subsidized by them.

Is there anything blocking ISB from achieving its goals?

There are qualifications for what can be admitted as a mandated credit versus the voluntary market in Alberta. We believe that regulations are changing and that if the government can see the potential of creating a big industry of planting trees, they will change their Tier One programs and get on board. We believe that the stabilization of the government in Alberta will allow us to help make that change.

Personal anecdote...a younger version of myself was once a tree planter in northern Canada. Could these planters one day be carrying SeedBalls, rather than saplings?

They very easily could be. Seeing as our balls don’t have to be submerged below the soil, it could become an easier planting option for planters down the road. One of the hard things we had to realize was that we are going to be disruptive in the industry. Meaning, because we can plant from the air (using drones), or scatter cannons, we may one day see a time when the traditional foot planter becomes obsolete. 

One final question…could SeedBalls be useful to say, NASA? For growth in space?

That would be a wonderful project for us to look at … there's a whole list of benefits to doing something where you're condensing your growth systems. For now, let's focus on Canada.

Pastureland in Saskatchewan, enrolled in the reforestation program
Written by
Stewart Orr

Stewart leads sales and go-to-market at Sequestr.

Stewart Orr

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Sequestr Carbon Inc.