• Going for green

    Going for green

    A South African-designed and built device that can be attached to a drone can sow thousands of tree seeds a day, reducing planting costs by up to 70%.

    According to Business Insider, the Podder pneumatic firing module attaches to a regular drone and, using gas or pressurised air, can fire two seeds into the ground every second, at velocities of up to 300m a second. Tree seedlings are usually planted by hand.

    After building an experimental unit in Hermanus, in the Western Cape province, the designers – a South African drone pilot and an Australian mechanical engineer – founded AirSeed Technologies in an effort to combat deforestation.

    Each seed is encased in its own pod made from biochar soil additive. The nutrient-rich carbon casing allows the seeds to be infused with land-specific microbes and fungi, which not only strengthens them but also does away with the need for pre-germination.

    Because there are limits to a drone’s payload, each carbon seed pod weighs only 5g, allowing the Podder to carry up to 1 000 seeds at a time.

    In addition, each planted seed is logged with GPS, enabling operators to track their growth success rate.

    9 July 2019
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images