Oxford-based start-up to use drones to plant one billion trees a year

UK (Next Media) – Oxford-based start-up Biocarbon Engineering is planning to fight industrial deforestation by planting 1 billion trees a year using drones.

Currently, 26 billions trees are cut down every year, while only 15 billions are replanted. The drones used by Biocarbon Engineering could solve the problem by making tree planting faster and cheaper.

In a video made by the company, Biocarbon Engineering explains that the drones would first fly above a selected area, map its level of deforestation and report back its potential for reforestation. Then, automated planting drones carrying seed pods would fly one to two metres above the ground, following a pre-determined planting pattern, and fire germinated seeds into the soil.

A small pressurized canister would provide the necessary propulsive force for the seed pods to easily penetrate the soil surface. The seed pods, filled with nutritious hydrogel to reduce the force of the seed’s impact with the soil, would then break open upon impact and allow the germinated seeds to grow.

According to the Independent, one drone is able to plant 10 seeds per minute. With two operators controlling multiple drones, 36,000 trees could be planted in a single day.

Biocarbon Engineering hopes to have the system fully working by the end of the summer.

According to the Independent, the drone system is not as good as hand-sowing, but it’s much quicker and less expensive than traditional planting systems.