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Science & Technology

Drones could plant one billion trees a year

October 6, 2015 | Comment icon 25 comments



Drones could help tackle deforestation. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Nicolas Halftermeyer
A new UK-based startup company has an ambitious plan to automate the process of planting trees.
BioCarbon Engineering believes that unmanned aerial vehicles can provide an effective solution to the problem of planting trees over large areas that have been ravaged by deforestation.

The system they have come up with first involves using fixed-wing drones to fly across and analyze the topography and biodiversity of an area to best determine where the new trees should go.

A second multi-rotor drone equipped with a special seed-planting 'gun' then flies over the region, firing seed pods as it goes as part of what has been described as a "precision planting platform."
The BioCarbon team presented the concept at the United Nations Headquarters in New York last week as one of fourteen winning startups invited to the 'Solutions Summit' conference which aims to bring together innovators to help achieve environmental sustainability goals over the next 70 years.

Following initial interest in its solutions BioCarbon has already managed to secure a commitment from a plantation in South Africa and has plans to expand its operations in the near future.

A video from the company explaining the drone system in more detail can be viewed below.



Source: Gizmodo | Comments (25)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Dark_Grey 7 years ago
In the eastern US there is a lot of work being done on mixed-species planting. Example: plant rows of white ash alternating with mixed rows of ash and walnut. Ash has a lower diameter limit needed for getting high grade. When it reaches grade, cut out the ash and leave the walnut to grow. That maximizes income from the stand. Takes rich soil to do it, though. I've also seen sweetgum-cherry mixes and some white pine mixes. Recreating a natural stand in an old field is very difficult. No matter what combination of trees you plant, you still don't have the forest floor plants like ginseng and tri... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Doug1029 7 years ago
Hey Doug are you in the forestry business? You seem very knowledgeable about forest health and growth I was. Spent 30 years as a forester. I'm into Environmental Science now. Doug
Comment icon #18 Posted by Doug1029 7 years ago
Sometimes I do wonder what means 'native' anymore ... native nature spreads unnaturally as far and wide as humans do in this day and age ~ invasive seems to be the norm of the day ... "Native" means it grew here before whites arrived. Functionally, that means 1500. But tumbleweeds, the icon of the American west, aren't native - they're Russian. And Kentucky blue grass isn't either - it came from Great Britain as packing for trade goods. There are some ups and downs to invasives, but mostly downs. Doug
Comment icon #19 Posted by third_eye 7 years ago
That's my point isn't it ? As far as I know humans has been disseminating all sorts of arrivals way far back in history before there were whites or red or black or any of the variant shades in between ... ~
Comment icon #20 Posted by The Black Ghost 7 years ago
To actually speak to the article itself - I think this company is promoting a good cause (more trees is good). But what about renting an aircraft? When we're talking about large areas of ground, a plane can cover that much faster and carry a far larger payload. When you average out the cost of renting the plane and the gas cost, I feel like it would be cheaper.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Likely Guy 7 years ago
To actually speak to the article itself - I think this company is promoting a good cause (more trees is good). But what about renting an aircraft? When we're talking about large areas of ground, a plane can cover that much faster and carry a far larger payload. When you average out the cost of renting the plane and the gas cost, I feel like it would be cheaper. Aerial planting? They tried that here in British Columbia, 20 years ago (?) from helicopters. We called them 'tree bombs'. It might work on flat soft ground but not in hilly rocky ground. On every sidehill you'd find them piled up in a ... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by back to earth 7 years ago
Plant so many trees = you can drive your car for a year with 0 C imprint ? In my experience that is wrong We have had massive enthusiastic tree planting here, the formula should be ; Plant and make sure x amounts of trees grow to maturity and are harvested and the wood is used in a way so that it decomposes as slowly as possible = x amount C reduction. just puttin the little guys in the ground doesnt do it ... unless its a good spot. Where it works, here, they need back up and care, but some projects plant, bag and leave, and not many trees survive. I saw a good doco recently on an Aussie guy ... [More]
Comment icon #23 Posted by Doug1029 7 years ago
Plant so many trees = you can drive your car for a year with 0 C imprint ? In my experience that is wrong We have had massive enthusiastic tree planting here, A large amount of carbon is sequestered in forest soils. That's several times the amount stored in the trunks themselves. When land is cleared for agriculture that carbon oxidizes to CO2 and escapes into the atmosphere. When a forest is reestablished, the soils gradually sequester more carbon. The catch is that the process is limited - soil can only hold so much carbon (The limit is around 3% carbon by weight, depending on soil type.). W... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Xzenox 7 years ago
What if natives find it?
Comment icon #25 Posted by dirtierdragoon4 7 years ago
This reminds me Oblivion with Tom Cruise when drones scan the area and assist when needed. Its a great idea and to program it automatically would be great... effortless.


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