Updated Apr 04, 2018

Drone for planting trees biocarbon engineering

Biocarbon Engineering

BioCarbon Engineering has developed a system to plant trees with drones with the core objective to plant 500bn trees by 2060. Just 400 teams will plant 10B trees each year, with the capability to scale to 10’s of billions of trees/year.

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Lauren Fletcher

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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

In the last 12 months we have advanced from pre-revenue to full commercial operations with active clients in the UK, Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Canada, and the US, and proposed projects in another dozen countries.

Registered as aFor-Profit.

Focus Areas:

Agriculture, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Environment and 3 MoreSEE ALL

Agriculture, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Environment, Forestry, Natural Resources and GIS/MappingSEE LESS

Funds Raised to Date


Every year, 15 billion trees are destroyed, and while a there is a large global tree planting effort that already spends $50Bn each year, there remains an annual net loss of 6Bn trees. Governments have recognized this, and 120 national and domestic governments committed to restore 350m Ha of degraded land by 2030. Achieving these global restoration targets with slow and expensive traditional methods alone will be impossible. These will need to be supplemented with new technologies.



BioCarbon Engineering has developed a system to plant trees with drones. Our core objectives are ecosystem restoration, conservation, and sustainable land use. The system uses satellite and UAV collected data to determine the best location to plant each tree. The planting drones fire a biodegradable seedpod at each predetermined position at 120 per minute. Two operators equipped with 10 of our drones will plant 400,000 trees per day. Just 400 teams will plant 10B trees each year.

Target Beneficiaries

Our primary market is the ecosystem restoration sector which accounts for 80% of the global segments. Key segments include: 1) Private Landholders: Individuals and businesses which are restoring areas for re-greening purposes or to increase ecosystem services in support of core business activities (e.g., farms, cattle ranches, plantations, and costal fisheries). 2) Intergovernmental Agencies: restoring degraded and other lands. 3) Governments: Restoration for the public good.

Mission and Vision

Imagine for a moment planting a half a trillion trees. When we plant a half a trillion trees, we will restore global scale ecosystems, protecting and expanding biodiversity. When we plant a half a trillion trees, we will improve the lives of 1 billion people living in forest communities with healthier environments, more resources, and local job creation. And when we plant a half a trillion trees, we will sequester enough atmospheric CO2 to change the trajectory of climate change.

Innovation Description

We use satellites and drones to make detailed maps of the terrain, nutrients, and biodiversity. We combine this data with information from local ecologists who identify the correct mix of native local species appropriate to protect and expand local biodiversity. We crunch that data through a machine learning algorithm and generate a geo-referenced planting map. This allows local ecologists to match tree and other species with the correct soil conditions to ensure the highest yields and biodiversity. Our mapping provides data important for the planning of restoration, conservation, and certification of restored environments.

This planting map is uploaded into our automated planting drones which fly at 3 meters above the ground and fire a biodegradable seed-pod with pressurized air at each of the pre-determined positions. The bio-degradable seed-pods are filled with a germinated seed, nutrients, and other vital components. These penetrate the earth, are activated by moisture, and allow the seed to grow into healthy trees.

Each drone plants our seedpods at 120 pods per minute. A team of two operators with a swarm of 10 of these drones will be able to plant as many as 400,000 trees each day. Just 40 teams of two can plant 1bn trees/yr, with the potential to scale to tens of billions each year. The fully automated and highly scalable BCE solution plants 150 times faster and 4-10x cheaper than the current gold standard – hand planting (>600x multiplier).

Competitive Advantage

The main competitive methods: 1) Direct seeding where seeds are broadcast over a parcel of land carried out with automated tractor or manned helicopter systems resulting in very low survival rates, 2) Hand planting is the most common method. It is slow, expensive, and labour intensive, 3) Managed restoration where forests restore themselves naturally with limited tree planting. It is slow and expensive and results in limited biodiversity, 4) Ground-based machinery planting of nursery grown seedlings by GPS-enabled tractors. This is only used in flat terrain, 5) Newly emerging copy-cat companies.

BCE’s advantages to these techniques: 1) Low cost and scalable, 2) High mobility allowing access to challenging or inaccessible areas, 3) Automatic tree planting, 4) Integrating Biology, Engineering, and Data, 5) Barriers to entry include patents and significant internal IP on seed selection and survival, and 6) Deep network of collaborations and supporters.

Planned Goals and Milestones

BCE’s follows a progressive business model that evolves starting with mapping and planting services and culminating in software, data and hardware sales. We currently have an integrated system capable of mapping and planting 10,000 trees/day/team (2.5M/yr). Within 6 months, we will baseline a planting team unit that will increase the planting rate capability to 100,000/day/team (25M/yr), and then increase the number of teams and daily planting capacity to 4M/day (1B/yr) by month 60.

Funding Goal10,000,000
New Implemented CountriesBrazil, Colombia, Philippines, Peru
Recruit3 engineers, 1 plant scientist, 3 pilots, 3 field ops leads, COO, 1 independent board member, 3 advisors.
New FeatureIncreased accuracy, swarm technology, new mapping sensors, beyond visual line of sight operations.


Mar 2018
Funds RaisedPENDING
Unknown Amount
Feb 2018
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Founding Team Joins
Aug 2014
New Product or Service
Patents Filed
Jun 2013