Tree Planting Festivals, Air Cannons, Self-Burying Seeds, And The Complexities Of Reforestation

At first glance the problem of how to plant trees would seem to be a straightforward one: take a seed, jam it into the soil and let nature take its course. Or alternatively do much the same with a sapling that already got a start in a nice, comfortable greenhouse before leaving it to its own devices. To the average person this is generally the point where it’s considered a ‘done deal’, but one only has to take a look at the average survival rate of saplings out in the wild to perish that thought.

Each environment offers its own set of challenges when it comes to reforestation, which can perhaps be considered ironic as many of these trees are being planted where forests used to be, albeit centuries ago in many cases. There are the easy spots, such as flat fields, with rich soil, ample rain and mild weather, to the challenging terrain of Iceland, or mountainous terrain. Here the logistics are challenging and where once rich forests flourished, the very landscape seems adamant to reject this botanic intrusion.

Further complicating matters here are the myriad of reasons why we’re looking at planting so many new trees that it has even become an internet thing, as with the 2019 ‘Team Trees’ 20 million new trees challenge. So how did we get here, why exactly are we doing all of this, and how much of these attempts do bear fruit?

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The Weedinator Returns

We are delighted to see The Weedinator as an entry for the 2018 Hackaday Prize! Innovations in agriculture are great opportunities to build something to improve our world. [TegwynTwmffat]’s Weedinator is an autonomous, electric platform aimed at small farms to take care of cultivating, tilling, and weeding seedbeds. The cost of this kind of labor can push smaller farms out of sustainability if it has to be done by people.

Greater efficiency in agriculture is traditionally all about multiplying the work a single person can do, and usually takes the form or bigger and heavier equipment that can do more at once and in less time. But with an autonomous robotic platform, the robot doesn’t get tired or bored so it doesn’t matter if the smaller platform needs to make multiple passes to cover a field or accomplish a task. In fact, smaller often means more maneuverable, more manageable, and more energy-efficient when it comes to a small farm.

The Original Weedinator was a contender for the 2017 Hackaday Prize and we’re deeply excited to see it return with an updated design and new people joining their team for 2018. Remember, there’s money set aside to help bootstrap promising concepts and all you really need to get started is an idea, an image, and documentation. There’s no better opportunity to dust off that idea and see if it has legs.