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Seed carriers break new ground

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Seed carriers break new ground

PARIS: Dropped over their target by drone, dozens of tiny wooden ”robots” twirl through the air in a balletic freefall before hitting the ground, where the work begins for these experimental self-burying seeds on an aerial replanting mission.

Inspired by natural seeds that have a curved tail to help them burrow into the soil, a recent study unveiled prototype human-designed seed carriers that can be sprayed from above and coil and uncoil depending on the humidity in the air, helping them to corkscrew into the ground.

While the technology is still in its early stages, researchers said the biodegradable wooden carriers performed significantly better than their natural competitors in tests and could ultimately be used to boost reforestation after wildfires, in restoring degraded land and in agriculture.

”We wanted to design and engineer a self-burying system for aerial seeding that works robustly on both flat and rough terrains,” said Lining Yao of Carnegie Mellon University, co-author on the study, published in the journal Nature.

Aerial seeding can access vast and remote areas by spraying seeds from aircrafts or drones, but germination rates can be low because of bad weather or animals eating the seeds.

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