According to the United Nations Environment Programme, our planet loses 70,000 square kilometers of forested area every year. Since trees play a key role in combating the effects of climate change, it’s always reassuring to come across innovative projects that aim to restore green areas around the world.
That’s exactly what AirSeed Technology is doing by tackling deforestation with the help of artificial intelligence and drones that fire specially designed seed pods in strategic areas. “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 the Australian startup. “In comparison to traditional methodologies, that’s 25 times faster, but also 80 percent cheaper.”
Special seed pod design
Before taking off their tree-planting mission, each drone is loaded with special seed pods compatible with the habitat they’re about to fly over. What makes the seed pods special is that they are manufactured using waste biomass, providing a carbon-rich coating that protects the seeds from potential consumers such as rodents and birds.
“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.”
Once out in the air, the drones follow fixed flight paths, planting to strategically predefined patterns and recording the coordinates of each seed, which allows AirSeed to monitor the health of the trees as they grow.
100 million trees by 2024
“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,” continues Walker, who says the company has planted more than 50,000 trees so far, and aims to plant a total of 100 million by 2024.