The Big Idea: Drones Employed in Tree-planting



Drone Image 1.JPGDrones really suffer a bad reputation. Drones are usually associated with the military, an invasion of privacy, and a thorn in the FAA and pilots everywhere. For hobbyists (like me, as you see with this drone selfie), it breaks my heart a little when I hear about all the bad press that drones seem to attract, mainly not because of the technology but of the “pilot” behind the controls who engages in behavior that proves the old adage “This is why we can’t have nice things…” definitively. Replacing delivery associates of their jobs and temping the bold to fly into private property on a dare, it seems as if good press on drones is hard to come by.

When it does come out, though, it’s something special.

At a time when the world is taking a closer look at the ecology and how to improve it, a community in Myanmar is turning to technology for a solution, using drones to restore their river’s ecosystem. A group of villagers along the Irrawaddy River have recruited drones to plant a million new mangrove trees in an effort to repair and improve the environment.

Here’s what you need to know about Mangroves. These trees grow naturally in coastal saline or brackish water, and in tropic and subtropic regions; and apparently mangroves have been gradually decreasing over the years in Myanmar. When it was discovered how bad the overall destruction of these trees has been, farmers have been planting replacement mangrove trees manually. The problem: planting mangroves takes a long time.

Drone quadrocopter. New tool for aerial photo and video. 3d illustrationSo the villagers and the nonprofit Worldview International Foundation are teaming up with drones and pilots from the BioCarbon Engineering company to seed an additional 600 acres of land. The drones have two jobs. First, they fly over the land, scouting and mapping the terrain, collecting information such as topography, weather, and soil quality. This data is processed by an algorithm to determine where to plant the mangrove trees, and where the mangrove trees would thrive. The second step has another set of drones specifically designed to carry seed pods. The second wave are sent out armed with seeds and this data of where the mangrove trees should be planted, they drop these seed pods in the ground within centimeters of where they are supposed to be planted. These drones are more than ten times faster than human planters, and they work at half the cost.

So there you go. These drones are not only going green, they are doing good things for the environment. This is one of those rare moments when drones and the pilots behind them are doing something good for everybody.

Can I savor this moment? Just for a bit? What time is it? I really want this feeling to last.



shurtz.jpgA research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratford University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.