Seed firing Drones to plant 100 million trees within the next 2 years
Think about an army of highly advanced seed-firing drones that will fight deforestation.
Yes, an Australian startup called Airspeed Technologies is doing the exact thing.
They’re fighting deforestation by combining Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision with the help of powerful drones.
Deforestation causes several after-effects such as increased greenhouse gases, soil erosion, flooding, loss of habitat, destruction of homelands, climate imbalance, and climate change.
A study published in 2015 in Nature shows that around 15.3 billion trees are chopped down every year. The UN FAO(United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) estimates that 10 million hectares of forest were cut down each year.
“The scale of human impact is astonishing,” says Thomas Crowther, an ecologist who led the study. “Obviously we expected humans would have a prominent role, but I didn’t expect that it would come out as the as the strongest control on tree density.”
Afforestation is on the horizon
So the good news is, the startup called Airspeed Technologies is aiming to restore a huge area of forests worldwide within 10 years.
They’ve already started their mission. “Rapid reforesting response is urgently required,” Airspeed says.
“The world has 10 years remaining to prevent massive and destabilizing climate change through combined rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, reforestation, and other natural climate solutions,” said UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Airspeed’s rapid response reforesting and revegetating mission is aiming to improve air quality, prevent carbon and other toxins, improve soil stability, and reconstruct habitats for wildlife.
All of these can be done by afforestation. They’re planning to plant 100 million trees by 2024.
“Each of our drones can plant over 40,000 seed pods per day and they fly autonomously,” says Andrew Walker, CEO and co-founder of AirSeed Technologies.”In comparison to traditional methodologies, that’s 25 times faster, but also 80 percent cheaper.”
These octocopters will be equipped with specially designed seed pods before take-off which can be fired into the ground from high in the sky. These pods are designed and coated using waste biomass which helps to protect seeds from birds, insects, and rodents.
“The niche really lies in our biotech, which is the support system for the seed once it’s on the ground,” says Walker.
“It protects the seed from different types of wildlife, but also supports the seed once it germinates and really helps deliver all of those nutrients and mineral sources that it needs, along with some probiotics to really boost early-stage growth,” he added.
The drones will navigate on fixed flight paths and they will plant the seeds in fixed patterns. Once the seeds are planted, drones will start to record the coordinates of each seed. This will help Airspeed to assess the health of its seeds as they grow.
“We’re being very mindful of the fact that we need to restore soil health, we need to restore microbial communities within the soil, and we need to restore primary habitat providers for animals,” says Walker.
The company claims that, initially, they could increase the world’s forest cover by 0.9 billion Hectares without affecting existing cities or agriculture. The company has already planted 50,000 trees and their progress shows that they will plant more than 100 million trees by 2024.
Two other start-ups – Dendra and Biocarbon Engineering are also aiming to fight deforestation by dropping seeds from the air.
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