Automated tree-seed planter hailed as saviour for forestry

The prototype allows a greater amount of seeds to be processed without the need for intensive manual labour.

Automated tree-seed planter hailed as saviour for forestry

An automatated seed-planting system has been hailed as a saviour for Scotland’s tree planting programme, which has been impacted by coronavirus. 

The prototype system emerged in competition run by the Scottish Government’s CivTech programme in 2019 on behalf of Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), which challenged companies to find new ways to make better use of Scotland’s limited tree-seed bank.

The ‘Tree Tape’ technology, developed by Cumbria Tree Growers, allows both for tree seeds to be germinated under glass, rather than in the field, and for a significantly greater amount of tree seeds to be processed.

It does so without the need for intensive, close proximity manual labour.

Alan Duncan, FLS’s head of plant and seed supply, said: “Physical distancing was threatening to have a significant impact on establishing saplings in a tree nursery – an intensely manual process that requires people to work in close proximity for long periods, over the short and intense spring seed sowing season.

“Our fear was that 2020 would go by without a single new tree being germinated at our forest nursery – against a target of nearly ten million.

“This could have had a serious impact on Scotland’s woodland creation and Climate Emergency targets, as well the availability of downstream work and economic activity in the forestry sector.”

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