Cotton LEADS

Taking Tech to Trees
December 16, 2019

A drone with the capacity to plant a hectare of trees in less than 20 minutes is just one of the revegetation methods set to be trialled by the new Cotton Research and Development Corporation Landcare Tech-Innovations 2021 project.

Led by Dr Rhiannon Smith from The University of New England, the research aims to improve capacity for cost-effective revegetation on cotton farms by trialling new and improved direct seeding technologies using drones and tractors.

Under the National Landcare Program’s Smart Farming Partnership initiative, CRDC secured a $1.3 million grant to implement the three-year Cotton Landcare Tech-Innovations 2021 project. The project will focus on four key research areas: innovation, technology, biodiversity and collaboration.

“This project is investigating a number innovative technologies including drones as an alternative to traditional expensive and time-consuming revegetation methods such as tube stock planting or traditional direct seeding by tractors that can only be done when the soil is quite dry so the tractors don’t get bogged,” Rhiannon said.

“The drones can shoot seeds into the ground at 40 metres per second while hovering two metres above the ground, all controlled by someone sitting in a vehicle. Usually we would require a tree planting team to achieve large-scale revegetation. “The benefits of biodiversity and native vegetation for sustainable agriculture in general are immense and go a long way in supporting healthy, vibrant environments for cotton growing communities,” she said.

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