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Automating forestry is an uphill battle. Trees grow well on slopes and steep inclines, which are difficult for farming equipment, adapted as it is to sweeping, gentle plains. This is especially hard for the replanting part of responsible forestry, where seedlings need deliberate, tender care so they can begin to replace their fallen predecessors. This is, right now, a human intensive process, but startup DroneSeed wants to turn over the entire process to, you guessed it, drones.

Besides the private forestry industry, another, more immediate need might take advantage of the DroneSeed technology: reseeding after forest fires. Motherboard reports:

DroneSeed has drones that can launch seeds, spray herbicide on invasive species, and monitor plant growth. The easy part is flying over the cut. The tricky part is making sure that the drone-planted seeds take.

Still, given the challenges in replanting by hand, drones are at worst a novel attempt at a solution. And if the seeds sprout and thrive, and the FAA approves DroneSeed’s operation, then a new way of forestry could take root.

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