Gardeners struggling to plant trees on steep hillsides in central China’s Hubei Province have come up with a solution: airdrop saplings from a drone to where they are supposed to take root.
Chinese media reported yesterday that over 4,000 trees, some as heavy as 50 kg, had been replanted thanks to the use of large-payload drones.
Several drones took off from a promenade near a local stadium in Shiyan, a city of Hubei, with tree saplings suspended by a rope from their bottoms.
The drones transported the trees all the way to the top of a nearby hill and hovered above its steep hillsides.
Then they lowered the load to be picked up by gardeners waiting on the ground, who in turn planted the saplings into holes that had been dug in the ground beforehand.
Chinese media reports didn’t reveal the manufacturers behind these drones.
According to an official with the local forestry authorities, who was not identified in the original reports, the trees will line the promenade on the hillsides and provide a shade for joggers. The varieties include panicled goldraintree, cinnamomum camphora and tallow tree.
They are two to three meters tall on average and more than 10 cm across. With mounds of dirt sticking to their roots, these saplings could weigh over 50 kg each, media reported.
Authorities decided that manual transportation of the saplings up the hillsides could pose safety risks to workers and result in erosion of vegetation covering the slope.
Instead, using drones could avoid such damages and minimize safety hazards, an official named Shi Wen was quoted as saying.
He added it was the first time for drones to airdrop young trees to be replanted in Shiyan.
Elsewhere in China, such practices are also gaining traction, as new, innovative applications have arisen for drones in agricultural production and plant protection.