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Ask HN: How can I plant more trees with technology
10 points by johnydepp 9 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments
From past 5 years I have become forest enthusiast. Me and 5 more guys spend weekends planting trees. But it takes a lot time to plant and take care of trees. Because of our limited men-power, I fear, we won't be able to do anything impactful in our lifetime. I would love to know how technology can help in this case.

There's so much innovation happening in other fields but I can't find anything related to Afforestation. This saddens me a little bit.

I am sure there would be more people on HN who are interested in the same area. I would love to hear from you.

Any information around tooling, robotics. Any contacts, guidance. Throw any information you might think will be useful!

The tech: tracking collars

The rest: Breed wolves, attach tracking collars, and lobby your local representatives to pass laws that impose hefty punishments on anyone who would kill the wolves.

Introduce the wolves to areas you'd like to see tree growth. They'll prey on the the predators who prey on the seeds and saplings, and the trees will grow.

Use the tracking collar data to monitor their territory coverage. Breed and distribute more wolves as needed. You can also use this data to bring assailants to justice, should you succeed in passing the no-kill laws.

Note there are many biomes where trees cannot thrive naturally, where natural forces may make it difficult or impossible for forests to take root long-term, such as the American Great Plains.

Where can I learn more about the relationship between wolves and sapling growth?

I'm also passionate about this topic and trying to apply technology and seeing what I can learn. From looking into this topic, stuff that could be helpful are: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Soil Moisture Capacity sensors.

Wrote this article for monitoring seedling growth:

- https://bartlomiejmika.com/posts/2021/how-to-read-data-from-...

I've been following HN for a while and saved a few articles that pertaining to this topic:

A grandmother made a forest https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22499224

Ask HN: What are the (software) opportunities for coming Green Revolution? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25147863

Ask HN: Are there any software jobs in nature/animal conservation? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23938635

Investors say agroforestry is climate friendly and also profitable https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23794141

Growing crops in cities will put an end to food waste https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25540378

Why I am building permapeople.org (permapeople.org) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24696688

Ask HN: Agriculture startups doing https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21325138

The Miyawaki Method: A Better Way to Build Forests? (2019) (jstor.org) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26114425

Fruit Walls: Urban Farming in the 1600s https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22395292

"Investors say agroforestry is climate friendly and also profitable https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23794141"

Nah, agroforestry really isn't climate friendly. Like most industries that can't function without a vast amount of fossil-fuel inputs, you can certainly make a profit from it though.

Thanks for sharing

I live on a farm in rural Western Australia, and my wife and I have spent considerable time and resources in planting wind-breaks, shelter-belts and doing our local roadside rehabilitation.

As you would know, it's hard work to plant, and hard work to keep the seedlings alive for long enough to establish and grow.

That said, we visited a farmer in the wheat-belt once who was planting shelter-belts of tagasaste (tree lucern). They used a machine that ripped a furrow (common farm machinery), and something rigged behind it that would drop a seedling every x metres. The furrow would naturally funnel water to the seedlings roots.

Don't have any particulars on what the machinary was, especially the back part of it, but I'm sure tree farm companies (those that grow Pine, Bluegums, etc as a resource to later be turned into furniture, building materials, or woodchips) have some tools and techniques. Perhaps seek some out and interview or arrange for a tour.

Of course, all of those machines require fossil-fuels to get on site, to function, and to leave the site again. You win some, you lose some.

Even planting one tree, and allowing to survive, and grow is impactful. Trees are habitat to birds, insects, small reptiles, and some mammals. They are shade. They bring nutrients up from deep in the earth and make them available to smaller plants at the surface, enriching the ground. They are water-pumps, keeping the ground salinity low, and making that water available for rainfall further in-land of coastal areas.

Every single tree you put in allows populations of animals to live and flourish. You are making a difference. You're doing an exceptional job.

I digress a little, but even so-called "Weed trees" have habitat value. I have seen people cut down Willows and Sydney Wattles in our neighborhood, which are introduced and not wanted, and feel they have done a good job and are saving the planet etc. etc. But then they don't plant anything to replace them, displacing animals who don't have really anywhere else to go.

Good to hear some encouraging words.

> hard work to keep the seedlings alive for long enough to establish and grow.

Yes its hard work & time taking to nurture them. I am from India, we have government funded nurseries here, they are affordable, but they do not provide very good plants. Growing seeds to 2-3 feet plant (which are ready to be planted to the land) takes between 1 to 2 years. If this process can be streamlined with some technology. A lot of effort can be saved.

Depending on what type of trees you may be able to leverage the natural forest system to do the planting.

Eg: I have wild Hazelnut or Filbert trees on my forested property, for the first couple years I struggled with transplants dying and then realized the squirrels were planting them too! Now I just keep the coyotes away(also to protect my chickens) and the squirrels plant the Hazels.

I also clear dead fall and gently rake areas where I want to encourage new trees.

I have found that a tree that starts naturally or from seed tends to do better than transplants, atleast in my area.

Hello there, Good to hear from your side.

> squirrels were planting them too!

I learned something new today

See: 'drone seed planting'

How about fossil fuel powered machinery? I've heard they are a real boon for labor intensive work.

Use Computer Vision to identify neighbourhoods with low tree cover and plant more trees there.

For context : https://www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/article/episode-...

TL;DR - some neighbourhoods have lesser shade than others. You can help bridge that gap!

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