From Australia to Africa, using seed-firing drones: the case study of AirSeed Technologies

  • News

Our planting includes trees, shrubs and grasses. It encourages the remediation of soil health and the redevelopment of degraded ecosystems through our Seed Pods – Andrew Walker. As the world warms with climate change, the years between 2019 and 2020 Australia suffered The Black Summer Forest fires; losing more than twenty-four million hectares of its forests. The country’s mean temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Celsius since 1910. With a rapid increase in heat events in addition to the decline of rainfall in the southern and eastern regions of the continent.

A globally growing burden

Earth is currently home to around three trillion trees; a number that is about half of what the planet had 12,000 years ago according to Nature. Their study also shows us that approximately fifteen billion trees are chopped down every year resulting in a drop of 46%. In efforts to combat illegal logging, deforestation, land clearing and habitat destruction; Australian start-up AirSeed Technologies offer a solution by developing both the drone technology and seeding process. AirSeed Technologies’ co-founder, Andrew Walker walks us through the company’s goals and what they are currently working on.

The World Economic Forum describes the climate change that we are experiencing as one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

With the problem of deforestation increasing in severity in recent years it has been seen as a global concern. Australia is known for extremes in significant weather and climate events. Such as extreme heat, periods of prolonged drought and vast bushfires. The intensity of these events is directly attributed to climate change and is accelerating in severity.

One hundred million trees a year by 2024: AirSeed Technologies

While deforestation is a complex issue with many causes and challenges. Not to mention tree planting is a labor intensive and expensive activity involving people trudging; with shovels and trucks with bags of new trees to plant; with the trees having to grow for about a year or so before the planting. The process of replanting cannot keep pace with the speed of habitat loss. The time needed to reforest even a small area is considerable. An admirable pursuit but has little hope of overtaking the amount of deforestation we are progressively facing.

Walker explains, we have developed specialized tree-planting drones equipped with machine learning capabilities. Our proprietary Seed Pod biotechnology to rapidly replant large areas of land accelerating global-scale reforestation. Our mission is to plant one hundred million trees a year by 2024; to restore the lost biodiversity across the world. By using cutting-edge technology to revolutionize planting processes ensures a sustainable supply of forest-based materials; by moving away from traditional linear modes of production and consumption and towards a more sustainable circular economy.

Reforestation: more than just trees

The company originally started in 2019 with its main headquarters in Sydney, Australia. It also had a secondary satellite office in Cape Town, South Africa working on large-scale restoration projects across Australia and Africa.AirSeed has been collaborating with academic institutions across Australia and South Africa for years. Whilst building a team of internal researchers that have been leading the charge in drone planting; hardware and software development; and Seed Pod biotechnology development. Today, AirSeed is involved in numerous restoration projects. These facilitate a constant stream of data used to further refine our process.

Threats like agricultural conversion, logging and road construction. They all pose eminent peril to forests that are soon to be rivaled and even surpassed by climate change; with the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Urban natural based solutions are essential in combating the climate crisis. Not only for their sequestering benefits but also in educating communities young and old. On the importance of adopting green architecture and planning; whilst demonstrating how urban forests, community gardens and composting programs can play a vital role mitigating climate change.

Where artificial intelligence meets climate needs

Flying above deforested grounds, drones are able to drop seed pods at the ground with sufficient force to have them buried in the soil. Walker divulges, AirSeed drones can plant up to 40,000 Seed Pods a day; access remote; hazardous and inaccessible areas; and GPS tag every Seed Pod planted. Our solution is approximately twenty-five times faster and eighty percent more cost effective than manual planting methods. Planting trees at scale is vital to tackling the climate crisis and reaching net-zero emission targets.

Drones are capable of out-planting the people needed to reforest acreage; making it possible to plant millions of trees each year. AirSeed Technologies take an active approach in the monitoring the replanting of projects by visiting the site regularly; ensuring the achievement of the reforestation success. Not only do trees sequester carbon. Our Seed Pods contain carbon that is deposited back into the soil. This means that our solution has the unique ability to both slow the damage to the earth and heal what’s already been done.

Lampoon, AirSeed drones can plant up to 40,000 Seed


AirSeed Technologies working with landholders

The impacts of the rise of the pandemic had started to provoke a response from both the public and private sectors. Recognizing the roles that local citizens play in conserving forests was rising; technological advances were improving forest monitoring to the extent that ignorance was no longer an excuse for inaction. As well as interest in forest restoration was reaching new heights. The goals for restoration projects are diverse. We work with landholders to address issues that are specific to their land. Some of the projects AirSeed is currently working on include a rewilding project. This will create a key wildlife corridor between two national parks. Working with a young family who are passionate about restoration and wish to leave a legacy for their children and community. In addition also bushfire affected land where natural revegetation has been challenged by invasive weeds.

Sustainability by education

With the world picking up speed in its race against climate change and in order to address it, education is key. The Australian start-up aims at educating people of all ages and professions,We’re able to spark conversation with those already in the ecological restoration space and those who are interested and want to learn more. Educating people on the value of environmental restoration. Also how the health of our planet is linked to human health is critical. Everyone should be part of that journey. Whether you’re an accomplished ecologist or simply keen to learn how environmental based solutions can help combat climate change. We share engaging and bite-sized pieces of our methodology. Insight into our planting projects on our social media platforms. A great way for people to learn about what we do and interact with the process.

AirSeed Technologies restoring lost biodiversity

In spite of its scale, the continent is home to unique ecosystems on the planet. Both in plant and animal kingdoms that face constant endangerment and are under threat of extinction if actions are not taken to right the wrongful doings of humans. AirSeed is able to demonstrate the ability of our drones and biotechnology; apply these learnings to meet the need on a global basis. By working to restore lost biodiversity in a variety of challenging conditions on Australian soil.

Walker points out,the underlying goal of all reforestation projects that we undertake is to restore lost biodiversity to the land. A key principle of our company and is at the heart of what we do. The achievement comes through ecological surveys of each site and by planting native species. Our planting includes trees, shrubs and grasses. It encourages the remediation of soil health and the redevelopment of degraded ecosystems. This through the inclusions within our Seed Pods.

Reforestation as a weapon against climate change

There is no denying the ongoing debate of environmental benefits. Reforestation as a weapon against climate change relies on a simple premise. Because trees hold so much of the carbon produced by fossil fuels, preserving them is a priority. The company faced challenges in order to combat climate change. To address the urgency of reforestation, the co-founder confesses. There have been many challenges throughout AirSeed’s development process. The speed with which industry and regulators have adopted innovations in technology and operational approaches; the complexity of addressing biodiversity restoration practices across a multitude of geographical locations; terrains; climates and soil types; and how AirSeed’s solution can not only have an environmental impact but also a social impact.

While we may have a long way to go in terms of making our planet a sustainable and greener one; companies like AirSeed Technologies have employed a unified goal in all their projects. Multiply the number of trees and improve air quality and consequently, the citizens’ quality of life. Andrew Walker concludes, education and actionable solutions that positively impact the environment is at the core of AirSeed’s mission. We are developing technological and scientific solutions to aid the scalability and affordability of restoration initiatives; whilst simultaneously ensuring our restoration practices address the biodiversity needs of those micro-ecosystems.

AirSeed Technologies

Co-founder – director and CEO of AirSeed Technologies, Andrew Walker is a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur with more than twenty years of experience in the automotive and aerospace design industry. Alongside Andries Louw, co-founder – director and chief pilot both Walker and Louw started up their own business based in Australia: AirSeed Technologies, fighting climate change using drones to replant ruined or abandoned lands aiming to plant one hundred million trees by 2024.