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Remotely Piloted Aircrafts: Evolution or mere illusion for direct seeding in forest restoration?

Grant number: 23/11601-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2024
Effective date (End): February 28, 2027
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Forestry Resources and Forestry Engineering
Principal Investigator:Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues
Grantee:Ítalo Favoreto Campanharo
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Due to the climate emergency, large-scale forest restoration is a current necessity. For situations requiring active restoration, direct seeding is a less costly and resource-intensive technique compared to seedling planting. In this context, the use of Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs) emerges as a promising alternative to optimize direct seeding. However, there is a lack of scientific studies effectively evaluating this technology applied to direct seeding in forest restoration. Therefore, this study aims to primarily evaluate the technical, ecological, and economic feasibility of seeding through RPAs.Initially, a systematic review will be conducted on the use of RPAs in the forestry/agricultural sector to identify the potential, deficiencies, and gaps of this technology. Subsequently, germination tests will be carried out in both laboratory and nursery settings to select the best seed encapsulation method, aiming to enhance seed dispersion and germination of seeds launched by drones. In the field, experimental plots will be established in pasture and degraded forest fragment areas, where the influence of various factors will be tested, such as soil preparation, use of encapsulated and non-encapsulated seeds, seeds of species with different functional attributes, to assess the effectiveness of this technology under different scenarios.Data collection will be conducted at 30, 60, 120, 240, and 480 days after seeding to quantify germination rate, establishment, richness, diversity, density, height, and crown cover of seedlings. Finally, a cost and efficiency analysis will be performed to provide a comparison between conventional seeding and seeding using RPAs.

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