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Sweden develops autonomous planting machine

Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, together with the forest industry and researchers, will invest 20 million SEK (approx. 2 million EURO) on development of an autonomous planting system, the Autoplant. The project aims to improve forest planting with regard to precision, environmental impact and the working environment. Sources: Timberbiz

Autoplant is the second step in a research program that aims to solve societal challenges through collaborative projects that contribute to the sustainability goals in Agenda 2030.

“The forest is an important resource in a biobased society as the raw material from the forest makes the phasing out of fossil products possible.
“In the meantime, we need the forest for carbon storage, meaning that we need to establish new forests fast after clearcutting. Therefor we wish to develop new, gentle and efficient methods for reforestation. As it is difficult to find labour for manual planting, and machine operators in the forest suffer from vibrations, we believe that an autonomous, small planting machine is the way ahead,” said Linnea Hansson, Project Manager at Skogforsk (Swedish Forestry Research Institute).

Autoplant addresses a series of challenges that connects to the sustainability goals in Agenda 2030:

The climate challenge:

Autoplant contributes to that new forest is established faster through better planting spots, higher survival rate and more energy efficient machines.

The environmental challenge: There will be less soil impact as less area is scarified.

The working environment challenge: Autonomous machines will do the hard job, and no operators will have to sit in the machine as in today’s scarifiers.

The labour and equality challenge: Autonomous machines, that in the future could be controlled from cities, could attract newgroups of labour and make family life easier.

The initiative comes from SCA who wants to increase the survival rate among plants and secure an efficient forest rejuvenation.

“This would also contribute to Sweden’s competitiveness and good reputation for Swedish forest technology,” said Magnus Bergman, responsible for technique and digitalization at SCA Skog.

Bracke Forest, who is a manufacturer of equipment for reforestation, will have a key role in the project.

“This is a good opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology in close cooperation with researchers and users. We have a long history within scarifying and mechanized planting, and we see this project as part of securing our product range for the future,” said Klas-Håkan Ljungberg, CEO at Bracke Forest.