• Joseph Louis

Can Drones Plant Trees?

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Trees plantation has also become very advanced from the traditional method of sending out teams of planters with the bags of seedlings and shovels slung over their shoulders. While individuals still play a big role in planting the trees. Automation makes planting easier for the government and helps NGOs and the private sector to meet their reforestation goals. It also boosts the seedling's survival and enriches biodiversity in degraded areas.

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With the help of specialized planting drones which are capable of getting seeds into the ground on a far greater scale than previously possible, Drone technology has made reforestation very efficient. With the help of a pneumatic firing mechanism, they can shoot pods of germinated seed into all kinds of terrain including slopes which are much faster and cheaper than planting by hand. To check and ensure the seedling survival rates, drones can carry out the post-planting aerial surveys, using that data to improve algorithms that analyze topology, soil types, and moisture.

Oxford-based Dendra System is a company that uses artificial intelligence and other forms of technology for land restoration claims that in a single day 2 persons can only plant up to 3,000 trees, and the same two-person team operating 10 drones can plant up to 400,000 in the same period. By combining the right species with the right location, the drone goes out and follows that path and plants where the trees are needed.

Using only five drones at a time, Droneseed (US Company) replant the trees in those areas which are devasted by forest fire within just 30 days. They locate and fumigate those burned areas, then they identify where trees will grow best, and then they deploy a 57-pound payload of seed vessels that are designed to boost survival rates. Droneseed has been working with The Nature Conservancy and several large forestry companies and they can propagate more than 16 hectares of land in a single day. Likewise, Dendra and Droneseed, new companies are also adopting this drone-based tree planting technology.

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And one of the examples is Toronto-based start-up Flash Forest, which says that it plans to plant 1 billion trees by 2028 with the help of this technology. Whereas, its current capacity is between 10,000 to 20,000 trees per day. But, they say that we hope to increase that number to 100,000.

Trees are an important part of our ecosystem. Drone proves to be an important ally in preserving the planet. By automating tree-planting drones, we can mitigate many of the risks of deforestation. We may even be able to reverse it.

How to plant seeds with drones?

· Using a combination of satellite images and drone collected data, the replanting areas are identified.

· Specialized Planting drones go up in the air, loaded with seedpods that contain germinated seeds and nutrients.

· Once they came in the position, the drone uses pressurized air to firm the seed into the ground with a speed of 120 pods per minute.

· These seedpods penetrate the earth and started growing once they are activated with the water.

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