A British engineering firm is seeking international backing to develop the first automated tree-planting drones in order to help counter industrial-scale deforestation across the world.
BioCarbon Engineering, an Oxford-based start-up company, believes drones may soon have the potential to plant around one billion trees per year, according to Horticulture Week.
Addressing a recent UN Solutions Summit in New York, company engineer Susan Graham said the world is currently experiencing a net loss of six billion trees every year. “Last year’s UN Climate Summit committed last year to restore 350 million hectares, or around 300 billion trees,” she said. “But we are not going to achieve that with our current planting techniques alone. How can we increase the planting rate while decreasing the cost?”
Should the plan go ahead, the specially developed fixed -wing drones will take detailed images of a particular area to tell the company about its nutrients, biodiversity and topology. “We then churn that data through an algorithm to generate a precision planting pattern, which we upload into our quadcopter,” said Ms Graham. “This flies at 2-3m above the ground and fires a biodegradable seed pod at each position, which contains all the nutrients for healthy tree growth.”
BioCarbon Engineering estimates that using the drones, 150 two-person teams could plant at 10 times the rate of conventional planting but at just 15 per cent of the cost. “We are moving from the lab into the field in the coming months. But we need financing for large-scale field trials,” said Ms Graham.
7 best drones
7 best drones
1/7 AR Parrot Drone 2.0
A stunning alternative to the more expensive models, this can be controlled by simply tilting your phone forwards or back. Intuitive and versatile it can record HD footage from below as well as in front. Great fun for a hot day in the park, to the extent that I nicknamed our review unit ‘Arthur’. £290, amazon Elite Edition Indoor Hull Sand - £40, amazon
2/7 Hubsan Q4 Nano Quadcopter
Weighing in at under 12g, this tiny quad is like a dragonfly as it zips about. Hover around the living room, or be chased by the cat, as you perform acrobatic ‘flips’. Flight time is a meagre 5 minutes but you can charge it easily using the USB cable. Great for kids, just watch out for any glassware. £28, firstpersonview.co.uk
3/7 DJI FirstPersonView Phantom 2 Vision+
It might be an expensive choice but the Phantom 2 Vision+ can stream live video to your smartphone or tablet. The built-in camera can record HD video at 1080p and is attached to a 3-axis gimbal to stabilise the image. Even better, it can fly for up to 25 minutes and can even be tracked using the radar feature on an app on your phone. £712, firstpersonview.co.uk
4/7 Quadcopter with LEDs
This six-axis quad can fly from between 10- and 15-minutes and features LED lighting so you can track it in the dark. It’s great fun, on the cheap, with four rotors to ensure a stable flight. It’s a bit more advanced than your basic model and recommended for people who at least have some history of flight. £55, red5.co.uk
5/7 Hubsan H107D X4 Mini Quadcopter
Fly around the house for seven minutes with this little beast. You can record footage using the in-built camera to store video onto a micro-SD card. Ideal for any newcomer, these quads need much less space to fly in. Charges via USB. £100, amazon
6/7 Parrot Rolling Spider
Another fun one, the rolling spider turns on automatically when thrown. It has two wheels, too, so you can roll along the floor and up walls. They even absorb some of the impact if the engine cuts out, so you don’t have to worry so much about damaging the device. Can reach up to 11mph. £82, amazon
7/7 DJI Phantom FC40 Quadcopter
A slightly cheaper version of the expensive Vision Plus, this one only has records in 720p. However its features are still futuristic, including the ability to fly home to its start location if it loses signal, or the battery goes too low. Approximately 12 minutes of battery per charge. £349, amazon
The project will help make plantation processes more efficient in that less time and manpower will be needed. The drones will be able to access places that are too difficult or dangerous for humans to get to.Reuse content