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Drones can fix our forest problem by planting 100,000 trees a day

Published Jan 31st, 2018 10:02PM EST
Tree-planting Drones
Image: Swiss Post

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We’re so good and so busy at cutting down trees that we can’t possibly make up for the forests we lose each year by replanting trees by hand.

However, smart drones could fix humanity’s major deforestation problem by planting trees cheaper and more efficiently than humans. These tree-planting drone armies could plant as many as 100,000 trees every day, even in remote locations that aren’t easily accessible.

Some 15 billion trees are cut down every year, the The World Economic Forum explains with only 9 billion being planted. That’s a deficit of 6 billion trees a year, as hand planting is slow and expensive.

BioCarbon Engineering, a British company, backed up by well-known drone manufacturer Parrot has devised technology that would allow drone to map out an area to plan an efficient planting pattern. Think of it as a Roomba robot mapping your house before vacuuming it. Only instead of a robot on wheels walking your floors, you have a flying drone looking at the earth beneath it to determine an efficient tree-planting pattern.

Then, a second drone is loaded with germinated seedpods which can be dropped at a rate of 1 per second, for a maximum of 100,000 units a day. 60 drones could plant 1 billion trees every year. A drone has a maximum capacity of 300 seedpods and covers a hectare in about 19 minutes.

The engineers estimate the method is 10 times faster and 20% cheaper than hand planting, and the technology was already tested in various locations, including the historic mining sites in Dungog Australia.

The Forum explains that a similar idea is developed by Oregon startup DroneSeed, which is developing “precision forestry” techniques that involve the use of drones for planting trees and spraying them with fertilizer and herbicides.

A video showing BioCarbon’s tree-planting drone tech follows below:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.