My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How DroneSeed Forest Planting Drones can replace Honeybees as Fruit Tree Pollenators

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How DroneSeed Forest Planting Drones can replace Honeybees as Fruit Tree Pollenators

“There is so much parallel with what happened to precision agriculture and what is happening with us in the forestry industry with drones. We see drones as forestry’s tractor.”

DroneSeed’s CEO Grant Canary speaking to Marketwatch on the use of Drones to replant forests

Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or Drones, have a myriad of applications, most of which benefit mankind. The flying robots in the sky can accomplish a lot give their unique vantage point, making them great for surveillance related jobs.

But add a tool to the drone, and it takes on a whole new level of weirdness.

Oregon start-up DroneSeed achieves this lofty status with their Drone system that uses an airgun to plant trees as explained in the article “Seed­Shooting Drone Could Change How We Manage Forests”, published June 29, 2016 By Kelly Hodgkins, DigitalTrends.

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The idea is replace the large teams of people usually involved in replanting a forest in the Pacific Northwest with a fleet of these specialized drones. Started in 2015 by founders Grant Canary and Ryan Mykita, DroneSeed takes the hassle out of tree replanting, as the drones are designed to:

1.      Identify potential planting sites
2.      Drop seed on these planting sites

This is really an example of Robotics being applied to farming similar to Australia as noted in my blog article entitled “How Australia's University of Sydney Livestock Farmbot heralds Efficient Agricultural Towers”.

The similarities are more striking when one considers how hard it is for logging companies to retain workers given the dangers they face and the cost for compensating these workers for these dangers.

It’s also another great example of Robotic Automation.

Drones, which are flying robots, will potentially replace humans in tasks that is repetitive, labour intensive and involves tracking large amounts of information accurately as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Fast Food Robot taking over by 2017 - How Drones like Amazon and PrimeAir and not Humanoid Robots will be the first Robots by 2015”.

The advantages of DroneSeed are clearly obvious:

1.      Drones are more effective and efficient
2.      Drones are cheaper than human labour
3.      Drones prevent humans from being placed in harm’s way

So how does DroneSeed Drones plant trees more efficiently than humans work?

How DroneSeed Drones Work – Drones with Air guns shooting Tree Seeds

Basically, the drones developed by DroneSeed are fitted with a special mini-air gun. However, this is nothing like the traditional air guns used in paintball, as they are lightweight and can shoot the seeds at a speed of 350 feet per second, pushing them deep into the ground.

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The drones are also fitted with LIDAR and sonar for 3D Mapping capabilities, making it possible for the drones to spot were the soil is softest and thus ensuring that every seed is planted deep into the soft fertile soil.

But it's their planting prowess that may have not only forestry replanting people impressed but also farmers:

1.      The DroneSeed drone can plant up to 800 seeds in an hour
2.      1.5 hours to replant 1 acre of forest

This is way faster than teams of humans can replant trees, which is typically 800 seeds a day! The founders of drones seed claim that this can potentially reduce the cost of replanting by a factor of 10, as their drones can also provide other services, such as fertilization as well as the application of pesticides for the foresters in the Pacific Northwest. 

They could also be potentially be used by the Forestry Department here in Jamaica to replant trees cut down via illegal logging as reported in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaica Forestry Department's Forest Act needs updating with bigger fines and Drones”.

Drones used for surveillance could be retrofitted with DroneSeed's tech, with minor adjustments to the motors, making it possible to replant and maintain the missing 60% of forests in Jamaica that may be contributing to our declining air quality as argued in my blog article entitled “Jamaican Drought, Trees and Air Quality - Why Jamaican Apartment dwellers are developing Respiratory Ailments”.

But something tells me that DroneSeed isn’t making their tech pure for tree-huggers in Congress to replant trees; they may have loftier goals in mind.

DroneSeed as pollinators - How Drones can be modified to replace bees

I suspect the real application of these drones may potentially be to replace bees and insects for pollination.

Currently bees in the US of A are dying dues to a mysterious disease that causes CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) as first alluded to in my blog article entitled “Bees Colony Collapse Disorder and the Jamaican opportunity”.

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This may be cause by various pathogens and the pathogens behind the AFB (American Foulbrood Disease) may be mites living on bees and their product, prompting Jamaica to ban the importation of bee products from the US of A as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaican Honeybees and American FoulBrood Disease - How the Ministry of Agriculture ban on Imported Honey protects local Agriculture Industry”.

The drones developed by DroneSeed can be made much smaller have a special robotic arm designed for pollinating flowers. So instead of shooting seeds, it can instead flit around like a bee and pollinate flower for fruit plants in a manner similar to a bee.

The advantages are the same as with replanting trees, as these drones can even be made to be solar powered, use Hydrogen fuel cells or even powered by mini rotary engines as described in my blog article entitled “How LiquidPiston's X Mini Wankel Engine means Rotary Engines for Drones, Range Extender and Hydrogen Vehicles”, keeping them aloft for hours at a time.

This would make them more effect at not only planting plants but also pollinating flowers than bees. DroneSeed’s Tech could be a potential long-term solution to fruit production in the US of A, as bees are needed to pollinate fruit trees.

Combined with Agricultural Towers as described in my blog article entitled “How IGES Canada Ltd Vertical Hydroponic Aquaponic Towers make low cost Organic foods”, DroneSeed’s technology can potentially be used to grow fruit trees inside of vertical Greenhouses as high as skyscrapers.

Thus the drones developed by DroneSeed are not just a solution to de-forestation. They may be a solution to the coming Global Food Crisis as they can replace the Earth's oldest pollinators: bees. 


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