Flash Forest, a Toronto-based startup, uses aerial drones to plant trees 10x faster than one worker using shovels. The goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2028.
The company modifies drones so that they quickly germinate tree seeds in the soil. This combines technology, software, and ecology to outperform traditional tree-planting efforts at a time of rapid global reforestation. This technology is also 80 percent less expensive than traditional tree-planting methods.
You can also read our guide on the best drone for starters.
What is the secret to it?
Heavy-lift drones have a pneumatic firing system that allows them to place the plant pods at the right depth in the soil. This allows them to reach areas that are difficult for human planters to access. Each tree pod is handmade and contains at least three seeds, mycorrhizal, and fertilizers. The team keeps secret the other ingredients.
The startup deploys mapping drones to map the area and then begins the process of planting trees. A swarm of drones begins dropping seed pods with high precision after identifying the best places to plant, based on existing plants and the soil. Pneumatic firing devices are useful in steep terrain and mangrove forests. They allow the drones to propel the seed pods deeper into the soil.
The team monitors the progress of each plant and deploys a drone to spray nutrients. Another drone is used to watch the growth process. Seeds are also sprouted prior to planting for a stronger root system and more effective growth.
The prototype devices were successfully tested and the startup has already planted trees in Ontario, Canada. The company hopes to reduce the cost to 50 cents per pod.
According to Fast Company, Flash Forest’s technology will be able to plant 10,000 to 20,000 seeds per day by 2020. A pair of pilots can plant 100,000 trees per day in the future.
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