The US had the most devastating season of wildfire in 2020, with more than 8 millions of acres burned throughout the country.
The regeneration of the forests that grew on this land would usually take years and hundreds of people manually planting saplings to be regrown.
However, they decided to speed up things by using the Drone Seed.
Replanting Burnt Forests Faster with Drone Seed
The Drone Seed from Seattle is considered a faster and more efficient solution.
As the name already reveals, this method uses several drones, also known as drone swarms, to restore burnt forest areas by dropping seed vessels where there’s optimal chance of regrowth.
The 8 foot drones flying on programmed routes are able to cover up to 50 acres per day and each of them can carry as much as 57 pounds of seeds, according to the CEO of the company, Grant Canary.
He also added that they’re 6 times faster than a person planting trees with a shovel, who can do around two acres per day. They also help reduce the supply chains down from 3 years to 3 months.
Drone Seed also got exemptions from the FAA to ensure they can use the swarms for replanting forests. And, they’re already restoring areas affected by the 2020 August Complex Fire in California and the Holiday Farm Fire in Oregon.
The drones are also checking out other areas struck by fire up and down the coast on the West.
Replanting Forests from the Air Isn’t New
Dispersing seeds from the air to help replant forests isn’t a new approach.
According to experts, it’s a lot easier and cheaper than traditional methods; however, it may not be as effective.
Namely, Ralph Schmidt, a professor at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute notes that throwing seeds from the air may be successful; however, growing seedlings in nurseries and then doing the planting by hand ensures higher rate of success though it’s much costlier.
With aerial planting, it’s pivotal to choose the proper species and the best area to do the drop.
In addition to drones, the company also uses Lidar tech-a sensing method used by self-driven cars to map the world and then make 3D models of the terrains.
This is combined with sensors measuring various wavelengths of light to differ easier between gravel areas and areas with healthy soils where the seeds would have higher success rate.