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A startup hoping to plant 1 million trees a year by drone just raised $437,000 from crowdfunding

- March 6, 2020 2 MIN READ
AirSeed Technologies co-founders Andries Louw and Andrew Walk. Photo: Supplied

 

An environmental restoration startup that’s designed tree-planting drones using artificial and data-driven intelligence to re-seed barren ground, has raised more than $437,000 in crowdfunding equity.

AirSeed Technologies, based in Sydney and Cape Town, South Africa, was co-founded by mechanical engineer Andrew Walker and geo-spatial data expert Andries Louw. The pair are driven by their concern for the environment and how they can improve things using technology.

When the OnMarket offer closed yesterday, March 5, the business had raised $437,429 at $1 a share from 259 investors for around an 8% stake, valuing the business at around $4.95 million.

AirSeed Technologies began trials on its drone tech in South Africa last March, planting 10 hectares with 10,000 seed pods using a drone they claim is 95% faster than traditional manual planting at 20% of the normal cost, believing they have US$100 million in commercial opportunities ahead.

Next up, the startup plans to run a commercial project to plant 200 million trees throughout Africa. Negotiations are also underway with another five major corporates for trials throughout Africa and Australasia. 

The specialised tree-planting drones can plant two seeds every second – up to 40,000 trees a day, they claim. The duo say they’re on a mission to a mission to plant 100 million trees annually by 2023. 

They’ve also developed and applied for a patent on what they called a “Carbon Seed Pod” which protects the seeds during the early stage to deliver an 80% germination rate on the trees planted and even go so far as to say they can GPS tag every tree for post-planting monitoring and identification using artificial intelligence.

It all sounds so ‘why didn’t someone thing of think sooner’, but Andrew Walker is pitching their venture as a solution not only to global warming, but also the recent devastating bushfires across more than 10 million hectares in Australia.

“AirSeed Technologies provides innovative technology that is required for a holistic, long-term approach to regenerate our land and promote habitat recovery. It is important to have manual, mechanical and aerial planting methods working together to restore what Australia has lost, and it needs to start immediately despite our weather ,” he said.

AirSeed Technologies has also partnered with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to determine how their drone technology can assist with mangrove restoration. The ecological catastrophe caused from bushfires mirrors what the coral reef community has experienced through recent mass coral bleaching due to climate change.

UTS researchers are supporting AirSeed Technologies in determining the correct science needed to plant the right mangrove seeds and what nutrients they need to grow and develop into effective seedpods. 

UTS Associate Professor and Coral Specialist David Suggett said Australia needs to act now on reef restoration.

“Coastal and catchment reforestation is critical to aid recovery of coral reefs, along with a more holistic ‘rainforest to reef’ management approach to mitigate multiple stressors. AirSeed Technologies will help us to develop and facilitate an optimised and sustainable approach for mangrove restoration,” he said.