For sustainable society


The cutting-edge planting using drone

We are in an era where we can purchase a drone personally and enjoy aerial photography easily. However, there are many scenes where drones can be useful besides aerial photography: for example, the inspection work of a large-scale solar power plant and the ecological survey of animals living in places where humans cannot easily go in. Thus, with the spread of drones, tree planting using drones has finally begun.

Flash Forest, a startup established in 2019 in Canada, plants trees by equipping its drone with a pneumatic firing device and shooting seeds from the sky into the soil. The reason why Flash Forest uses a drone to plant trees is to solve the climate change problem. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is necessary to plant 1 billion hectares of trees (a forest about the size of the entire United States) to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the amount of CO2 emitted is increasing year by year, which has exceeded the capacity of the earth to absorb naturally. Currently, since the fastest and cheapest way to eliminate CO2 is tree planting, Flash Forest is working on planting trees using a drone. Flash Forest technology can currently plant 10,000 to 20,000 seed pods a day, and with further technological advances, a pair of pilots will be able to plant 100,000 seed pods in a day.

Angelique Ahlstrom, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Flash Forest, said: “When it begins work at a site, the startup first sends mapping drones to survey the area, using software to identify the best places to plant based on the soil and existing plants. Next, a swarm of drones begins precisely dropping seed pods. The seed pods are also designed to store moisture, so the seedlings can survive even with months of drought. In some areas, such as hilly terrain or in mangrove forests, the drones use a pneumatic firing device that shoots seed pods deeper into the soil, which allows you to get into trickier areas that human planters can’t.” From this, it can be seen that it is an efficient method, which is completely different from the tree-planting methods that have been done manually.