BioCarbon Engineering’s drones spray tree seeds to fight deforestation
BioCarbon Engineering (BCE), a UK-based start-up, has developed a technique that they say could potentially plant one billion trees per year using drones. BCE’s co-founder, Irina Fedorenko, said current tree-planting programs “are just not fast enough, but our technology is automated, so we can scale up quite realistically and quite quickly.”
First, a drone scans the terrain and develops a 3-D map of the area. Then, using the data from this ‘smart map’, the team develops an algorithm for a unique planting pattern. A ‘firing drone’ uses the algorithm to carry out the planting strategy. The drone flies about six feet above the ground, firing germinated seed pods at a speed that will get them under the soil and one drone operator can manage six drones.
Initial testing in the UK found that the species planted by drones had a better survival rate than helicopter spreading, which is more commonly used. Some species had survival rates nearly identical to hand planting. Fedorenko states that they are: “bridging this gap between ground-based technologies like tractors and aerial technologies such as helicopters.”