An Australian biotechnology company plans to sow seeds from the air on a massive scale in its mission to plant hundreds of millions of trees over the next two years, to tackle global warming. The activity will use a drone (drones) which are specially designed to catapult the seed into the ground, with each seed pod created to suit the environment it is expected to grow in.
Reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has become one of the main struggles in tackling climate change and reducing global warming caused by greenhouse gases. Through photosynthesis, trees are a natural way to absorb carbon.
The obstacle, however, is to plant enough trees in a short period of time in areas that may be difficult and expensive to reach.
Professor Andy Pitman is a climate change scientist at the University of New South Wales. He said it was important to act quickly. “So the first step in solving the problem is really simple: we have to cut emissions very quickly and the reason why this has to be done fast is because we haven’t done it for the last 30 years,” he explained.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and further increase the Earth’s temperature, a phenomenon known as global warming.
The world produces more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, mostly through the burning of fossil fuels. Deforestation for agriculture and the growth of human habitation have reduced the natural ability to trap carbon. That’s why organizations around the world are trying to plant more trees to make up for the loss of forests. The fundamental problem of reforestation as a solution to the carbon dioxide problem in today’s environment is how to plant large areas of forest every year without stopping.
The biotechnology company AirSeed has been experimenting with ways to dramatically improve the tree planting process.
Engineers and biologists have collaborated to create drones and a new type of organic pod that will allow them to plant trees in far less time than normal.
Andrew Walker, CEO of AirSeed stated, “The advantages of using drones are first, large-scale planting, or creating highly productive planting solutions, compare one person planting 800 trees per day and drones planting 40 thousand seeds per day. The difference in scale is huge. Second, drones can access locations that people cannot reach without harming them, so we can plant on very difficult terrain.”
The specially created seed pods provide nutrition and protection for the seed at a critical stage of plant growth.
Use drones to spread the pods is also cheaper because it uses less labor. Drones can also cover a much wider area more quickly.
The newly planted trees not only capture carbon, they are also better able to adapt and withstand climate change now and in the future.
First of all, drones used to map land, provide necessary information about the health of the plants present there and identify specific plant species. According to AirSeed, soil samples are analyzed for nutrients, minerals and other elements in order to produce carbon pods for specific soils. The goal is for biodiversity.
What AirSeed is working on is certainly only one of many solutions worldwide to the carbon dioxide problem.
AirSeed is already deployed in the highly populated states of Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and is also operated in South Africa. Next year, the target is to expand operations in Southeast Asia, North America, Africa and Europe. [uh/ka]