Agritech, AI / Machine Learning, DecarbonisationAirSeed have developed the specialism and technology to scale environmental restoration using seed-planting drones
- Year founded: 2018
- Funding: Series A forthcoming
- Revenue growth from 2020 to 2021: N/A
- Lead investors: TWIYO
- Offices: HQ in Sydney, Australia and satellite office in Cape Town, South Africa
- FTEs = 10
- Key clients/partners: N/A
- Key executives: Andrew Walker, Director, CEO and co-founder, previously mechanical engineer at BMW and Airbus; Andries Louw, Director, Chief Pilot, Co-founder, previously researcher in use of geospatial data for precision agriculture and land surveying
The environmental and human risks incurred through deforestation and biodiversity loss cannot be overstated. The continual destruction of natural ecosystems is accelerating climate change, decreasing food and water security, and endangering human health and natural assets. Deforestation or conversion of land for agriculture use is a key direct human driver of biodiversity loss. Indirect human impact is felt through the effects of climate change, for example, increased frequency of forest fires.
AirSeed has developed specialised planting drones that use patented Seed Pods to restore diverse natural ecosystems, ranging from arid zones to rainforests. AirSeed projects begin with an ecological survey to develop a planting plan that incorporates native species. Next, Seed Pods are prepared for planting; AirSeed’s proprietary biotechnology ensures each Seed Pod is soil and species specific, incorporating the right mix of nutrients and minerals to aid seedling growth. AirSeed’s drones then autonomously fly routes determined using machine learning and to precision plant Seed Pods in locations recorded using GPS. The use of these specialised drones facilitates access to large areas of land, which may be remote or hazardous, and the GPS logging allows AirSeed to monitor the restoration progress.
AirSeed reports that, in a single day, two people can plant 40,000 seeds, making their process 25 times faster and 80% more cost effective than manual planting methods. Their goal is to be planting 100 million seeds a year by 2024. This scale up will require strong state support. Australia, where AirSeed is based, suffers increasingly frequent intense climate events, such as fires and floods, that destroy vast areas of vegetation home to unique and near-extinction species. Australia is therefore the ideal location to test and scale AirSeed’s technology, but deforestation and biodiversity loss are global issues. Following commitments at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference to conserve forests and restore biodiversity, governments will need to increase adoption of nature based climate mitigation solutions. NGOs and corporate entities are also expected to invest in this endeavour.
plans for 2022
This year will see AirSeed Technologies move from test phase to large scale deployment through a number of new planting projects commencing with commercial and government partners.
who should connect with this company
Governments, NGOs, and corporations responsible for or interested in sustainable biodiversity restoration to combat climate change.
company in action
AirSeed’s newly developed Seed Pod planting drone, Artemis, underwent the final stages of testing in late 2021. This video shows the Seed Pod planting drone technology being put to the test in Australia.
Mass tree-planting projects that claim to offset carbon emissions have received criticism in recent years, with experts highlighting the potential environmental and societal damage caused by poor planning, often due to the use of alien seeds or selection of unsuitable locations. AirSeed stands apart from such projects by applying their specialised ecological knowledge and land surveying capabilities.
In the wake of the pandemic, citizens and states have heightened awareness that biodiversity loss can increase the spread of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19. This link adds to the multitude of factors that should motivate public and private landowners to act fast in restoring natural ecosystems. StateUp expects that this crucial aspect of fighting climate change will receive increasing attention from policymakers and investors serious about reaching net zero.
New technologies will be vital in achieving the levels of environmental restoration desperately needed; ‘eco disruptors’ with exceptionally strong technical teams, such as AirSeed, will be at the forefront of innovating restoration solutions. AirSeed stands apart from other drone-based seed-planting startups due to the strength of their technical team and because of their focus on environmental restoration specifically to combat biodiversity loss and climate change – other startups typically focus on providing a reforestation service to timber producers. Currently, the financial incentives are greater for timber reforestation than for environmental restoration. However, with increasing commitments from governments to tackle biodiversity loss, new opportunities for growth are certainly on the horizon for environmental restoration startups such as AirSeed.