Chinese drone maker XAG collaborated on a reforestation project in Brazil, which is experimenting on the use of drones to plant native tree species. The trial aims to show the effectiveness of drones in improving forest rehabilitation – paving the way for the autonomous technology to be used in large-scale planting of Brazilian forests.
"We know how difficult it is to carry out work like this one to plant native trees. So, when we can count on a technology that has control and that we can manage to define rigor, this is welcomed,” said Professor Alessandro Camargo Angelo of the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), the country’s oldest university.
The drone seeding application is part of the Arboreto Project carried out by UFPR in collaboration with Timber, XAG's local partner and a supplier of autonomous agricultural machinery
As deforestation has become a global crisis that can undermine the climate target and threaten food security, the autonomous farming drone could be explored for a new territory to make forest replanting easier and faster.
Brazil, with the world's second largest forest area, is among one of the countries which pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate summit.
Seed-planting trial– under the hood
During the field experiment, different amounts of seeds were weighed and sorted into the smart container onboard the drone. After the pilot entered all the operation parameters into the mobile app, such as waypoints, flight speed, and spray volume. The XAG Agricultural Drone with a spreading attachment was planned to run along target lines, evenly distributing seeds from different forest species native to the region.
Compared to planting trees by manual labour, drone with full automation can improve the productivity of the restoration work, especially in terrains that is difficult to access. It is expected that agricultural drone can serve as a cost-effective tool to facilitate the replanting of native trees by governments and companies.
With the seeds of planted, the project leaders will evaluate germination rate and tree growth per row, while gaining understanding of the most suitable seed mixture for drone application.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of the versatility of XAG's agricultural drone, UFPR has also conducted another experiment with an eye on fertilisation and pest control for plantations of commercial tree species. At UFPR's Experimental Farm near Rio Negro, the XAG drone automatically dispersed solid fertiliser and liquid pesticide into an area with 1.5-year-old slash pine planting.
As a leading agri-tech company, XAG develops drones for various agricultural uses that have been introduced to 42 countries and regions. Its agricultural drones are widely used for sowing seeds, spreading fertilisers, spraying pesticides, and digital field mapping.