Drones to plant 1m ghaf trees in UAE

Sharjah - In a pilot project in 2019, 4,000 seeds were planted in Sharjah by Cafu using drones.

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Published: Fri 20 Nov 2020, 1:32 AM

Did you know that it takes almost two-and-a-half months to plant 4,000 Ghaf trees manually with the traditional method? A Dubai tech start-up has managed to do so in less than an hour using custom-built drones. In a pilot project in December 2019, 4,000 seeds were planted in Sharjah by Cafu using drones, in collaboration with the Sharjah Municipality and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The start-up is now set to use another innovative way to aid it in the one-of-its-kind project where it is looking to plant more than one million Ghaf trees in the UAE using specialised drones supported with sophisticated back-end-technology.

Instead of just spraying seeds on the surface of soil, the fuel delivery company has come up with an innovative way that promises a greater success rate of germination of seeds called ‘planting seed ball’.

Nabra Al Busaidi, Sustainability and Community Manager at Cafu, said: “In 2019, we did surface seeding but with research and development over the past year, we learnt a smarter way of germination process using seed balls that will protect the seed from getting spoilt by any mould or insect and will have better moisture holding capacity and nutrition. We will use a special dispatch mechanism of multipurpose drones that will drop these seed balls in the soil at a certain pace so it penetrates to a certain depth below the ground. This will ensure the seed gets optimal conditions to germinate.”

Partnering with Merlin Eco-Green Technologies, Cafu undertook an extensive R&D phase that analysed the soil in the Mleiha Desert, where planting will take place.

“We have already collected two million Ghaf seeds and will be beginning the planting for the ‘one million Ghaf tree project’ in mid-December. The preparation of the seeds includes priming of the seeds, optimal seed nutrients for rapid germination by way of embedding them in seed balls, and the testing of various depths for the seed to be planted through drones,” Al Busaidi.

The Ghaf tree project is the brainchild of Rashid Al Ghurair, founder and CEO of Cafu.

Al Busaidi said: “The Ghaf tree, the UAE’s symbol for the Year of Tolerance, is able to survive in harsh conditions. It survives on very little water, improves the quality of the soil, and helps battle climate change by taking in up to 34.65kg of CO2 emissions per tree, per year. As a Ghaf tree is able to live up to 120 years, this could result in over 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 being absorbed over their lifetime.”



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