04 May 26, 2007

Robert M. Dixon

This essay explains the procedure for using hand imprinters to restore vegetation
or create new vegetation on degraded land–degraded by such processes as land
desertification. Large rolling land imprinters were invented in 1976 and hand
imprinters came soon afterwards. The design of hand imprinters has been evolving
to better satisfy the definition of the imprinting process–wedging out a V-shaped
depression with minimal soil disturbance and without soil surface inversion.

The current hand imprinter is simply a commercial lawn edger–a pole connected to
a rectangular steel blade sharpened on the bottom side. This steel blade is pushed
into a moist soil several inches deep and then the handle is rotated back and forth
to wedge out a 60o to 90o imprint. Start imprinting at the bottom of sloping land
and then work backwards upslope staggering the imprints as you go. A one-foot
spacing of the imprints is recommended.


A triangular imprinting pattern is shown but any pattern that is appropriate can be

It’s important that the soil be moist at the time of imprinting to ease the
penetration of the blade into the soil and to stabilize the V-shaped sidewalls of the
imprint. If the soil sticks to the blade, it is too moist (wet).
After the desired land area is imprinted, seeds can be hand or mechanically
broadcasted (scattered). Another alternative is to scatter half of the seed before
and half after imprinting.

Medium quality lawn edgers are available at most hardware stores, however a
higher quality edger is available from the Imprinting Foundation:

Hand imprinters can be used for ecological weed control of exotic weeds by
displacing them with later successional native species. More information may be
obtained from The Imprinting Foundation web site.


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