Speeding Up Tree Planting By One Hundred Times Using Drones

BioCarbon Engineering wants to counter act climate change and carbon emissions by speeding the planting of trees by one hundred times by using drones. They have planted 38 species across Australia, Myanmar and the UK in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical environments. These include orthodox, intermediate and recalcitrant seeds. They are always adding more qualified species to their list.

Drone-based tree planting can speed up tree planting by up to 150 times and at vastly lower cost. Fast growing species have the potential to draw down and store more carbon in the soil.

Every year, 15 billion trees are destroyed from natural and anthropogenic causes. Despite US$50 billion a year spent on replanting, there remains an annual net loss of 6 billion trees. Governments have made commitments to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land—equivalent to an area the size of India, which could accommodate around 300 billion trees—by 2030.

They use satellite and drone-collected data to determine the best location to plant each tree. The planting drones fire a biodegradable seedpod into the ground with pressurized air at each predetermined position at 120 seedpods per minute. The seedpods are filled with a germinated seed, nutrients, and other vital components. These penetrate the earth, and, activated by moisture, grow into healthy trees.

Two operators equipped with 10 drones can plant 400,000 trees per day. Just 400 teams could plant 10 billion trees each year, with the capability to scale to tens of billions of trees annually. The fully automated and highly scalable BCE solution plants 150 times faster and 4-10 times cheaper than current methods.

They received $2.5 million in funding in 2018.