These Drones Replant Forests. Meet The NJ Man Who Created Them

NEWARK, NJ — At first glance, it looks like a tiny missile dropping out of the air. But Chrystoff Camacho’s brainchild isn’t meant to destroy.

Its purpose is to create.

Camacho, an entrepreneur from New Jersey, is the inventor behind an aerial reforestation device with a green-minded goal: Find a cost-effective way to replant desert-like, tree-stripped landscapes.

His invention – a biodegradable packet containing seeds and mineral-rich soil – is packed into a cone-nosed capsule that’s specially designed to penetrate tough, dry earth. Loaded into drones or planes, the trees-to-be are dropped from the sky like little bombs.

And given enough time, they can replant an entire forest, he says.

According to Camacho, the device is capable of planting 150 seeds over an acre of territory in a mere 12 minutes. Even better is the price tag, he says: about $35 an acre.

“I believe it will allow for mass reforestation at a very cost-effective alternative to what’s out there right now,” Camacho says in a promotional video (watch it below).

The inspiration for Camacho’s drone-deployed seed capsule came during a trip to his native Guyana in his teens. As he took in the damage that logging can wreak, Camacho got to thinking – and researching rates of tree loss around the world.

“My first idea was about developing some way to make the land in need of rehabilitation more productive,” Camacho said. “Land stripped of trees becomes dry and flat and can’t hold water, so I was thinking about making conical imprints that would create mini-basins for trees or crops that would be planted by hand.”

“But that got me thinking about ways to do this by air, using velocity to make the imprint, because doing it by hand is so time-consuming,” Camacho said. “And then I had the idea of including the seeds and soil.”

While attending New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, Camacho worked on his device – and learned how to market and patent it – getting some much-appreciated help from his mentors and teachers.

His invention has gone on to win funding from NJIT and the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, and attracted $30,000 of capital from an angel investor. Camacho has also begun to build a corporate structure for his invention, forming an environmental technology firm called ParaTrees.

Recently, the company has been providing monitoring and evaluation services to forest managers, using a range of technologies such as unmanned aerial systems, IoT sensors and AI to assess forest conditions and recommend remediation strategies.

Last week, Camacho racked up another honor at the Research & Development Council’s 40th annual Thomas Alva Edison Patent Awards, where he stood side by side with researchers from major corporations such Celgene, Ethicon, Nokia Bell Labs and Siemens Corporate Technology.

Watch Camacho speak about his invention below, and read more about his time at NJIT.

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