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Planting trees child’s play

An idea that started out in a garage in Hermanus has the potential to change the world as it is known.

Andrew Walker from Australia and Andries Louw from Hermanus built a device called the Podder and attached it to a drone. It has the ability to shoot seeds into the ground, turning planting trees into child’s play.

The device was built in Louw’s garage in Hermanus in January 2019, where the duo started their company, AirSeed Technologies, which focuses on fighting deforestation by planting more trees.

Louw, who has a background in agriculture, is a certified drone pilot in the UK, South Africa and Australia. He was actually one of the first South Africans to start using and incorporating drone technology into the agricultural sector. Business partner Walker is a mechanical engineer from Sydney.

Two additional engineers also form part of the team, and they are based at AirSeed’s offices in Vermont. The company’s head office is in Sydney.

“What we need to do as humanity, as a globe, is to stop cutting away the earth’s lungs and start mitigating global warming by reforesting. That is what AirSeed Technologies is about – bringing a solution that can do this reforestation on a global scalable way.”

According to Louw, the company developed technology that can plant seed buds (that will later grow into trees) with a drone.

AirSeed Technologies has moved away from shelf drone technology and developed their own payload system, which is a delivery system for taking the buds and putting them into the ground.

“The software we use allows us to fire these seed buds autonomously, and every time we plant a tree we are able to log a GPS position,” Walker said. “That allows us to come back later and fly the same route with the drone, and then we can quantify the success of every tree that we plant.”

Louw explains that by using a pneumatic firing system the Podder has the ability to plant two tree seeds per second and approximately 40 000 trees a day with a team of two people.

“By using a technique called swarming one drone pilot can fly up to five drones at the same time. This is much more advanced than planting trees by hand.

“Normally tree planters who do it by hand can plant up to 800 trees per day, while we can easily plant 40 000 seeds per day.”

AirSeed Technologies is growing and expanding its footprint day by day. “Currently we are engaged in negotiations for projects in Australia that focus on reforestation, after the big fires that raged there recently,” Louw related.

“We are also busy negotiating with the Fiji government and its Department of Forestry for projects we are starting there in 2021.

“We are also working in Oman close to the UAE for trial projects in the desert. Further, we are busy negotiating with a company in Portugal that does work in Columbia and Mexico.”

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