Old Military Planes Repurposed to Drop 900,000 Tree Bombs a Day

by , 10/20/10

seed bomb, tree bomb, lockheed martin, recycling old military equipment, old military equipment, old plane, decomissioned planes, plane tree bomb, tree bomb c 130

If we’re lucky, seed bombing could jump to a whole new level of awesomeness. A fleet of unused and decommissioned C-130 Hercules cargo planes, originally created to drop land mines, could be recommissioned as foresters. Lockheed Martin — the quintessential military innovation company — and Aerial Forestation Inc, of Newton took an old rusty idea from former UK RAF pilot Jack Walters and turned it into a reality. The planes will be outfitted to each drop up to 900,000 trees in one day and with 2,500 C-130’s sitting unused in 70 different countries, this idea could make for a lot of little saplings.

seed bomb, tree bomb, lockheed martin, recycling old military equipment, old military equipment, old plane, decomissioned planes, plane tree bomb, tree bomb c 130

The possibilities are amazing,” Peter Simmons told the Guardian. “We can fly at 1,000ft at 130 knots planting more than 3,000 cones a minute in a pattern across the landscape – just as we did with landmines, but in this case each cone contains a sapling. That’s 125,000 trees for each sortie and 900,000 trees in a day.” The cones in question are expertly formed to bury themselves in the soil of a deforested area at the same distance that one would want them to be if planting the trees by hand. The tree bombs don’t explode on impact but rather their casing dissolves over time and they contain a measure of fertilizer and enough moisture to ensure that the tree takes root.

There’s not much about this idea that we don’t like — reusing old planes that are gathering dust and planting new trees in deforested areas both sound like wins. Lockheed Martin seems excited about the idea as well, and they note that if the technology is dispersed across the many countries that have these ideal planes just sitting around, as much as 1 billion trees could be planted in one year. Lockheed intends to market the idea to companies with large carbon footprints that they hope to offset — just take up a plane instead of having hundreds of people bent over a deforested area attempting to dig holes for saplings. The idea was explored by Lockheed Martin and Aerial Forestation Inc. and hasn’t come to full fruition yet. We found it lingering in a pile of awesome ideas and thought that with a little help, perhaps Lockheed and Aerial Forestation — or some other company that supports big ideas — would pick it up and bring it back to life.

Via Treehugger

Related Posts


or your inhabitat account below


  1. Fran Lorenzo July 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm
  2. Ellen Lockheart February 17, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    DO IT!!! the world is counting on this vital service to all live as we understand it!

  3. Old Military Planes Rep... February 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    […] inhabitat.com […]

  4. jocostello February 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm


  5. roughdesigns November 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    There was a TV show that explored this on one segment. It was a tough problem.
    Dropping seeds is a non starter, there are seeds, from the forest there before. Eventually they will probably out compete the weeds, but it takes decades, which is why lumbering cos hire people to put in seedlings.
    Getting the seedlings “embedded” in any effective way was not resolved.
    Hmmm, now that I think of it, anything able to pierce the earth to implant a seedling, could maybe spear the unsuspecting camper too?
    Perhaps we should concentrate on improving people powered forestation, maybe giving those marginalized and abandoned by the economy some small perks for volunteering for this job, maybe decent health insurance in addition to whatever support they are already getting, welfare, unemployment, etc..
    Russell Higgins AIA

  6. Glenn Bromiley October 31, 2014 at 4:08 am

    lmao @ the idiots who are so negative about this… nothing but awesomeness here! corporate agendas??? fewer employees??? who the hell is planting the seeds in the millions of cone bombs??? how about saving your fucking lungs by planting trees more quickly than planting in person??? you going out to all the deforested areas to plant them yourself? jackass! this is a brilliant idea!

  7. Nancy Bowman October 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Save the trees…use hemp!

  8. Risa Bear October 6, 2014 at 1:12 am

    I\\\’m into this but if they hit me in the head can I sue?

  9. Ryan Mackin October 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Why not just try it and see how it works…? You know, a ‘pilot’ program..

  10. Georgann Putintsev October 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Again.. ever feel this is an effective Corporate Agenda idea to save money by using fewer employees than actually paying a workforce to plant the seedlings with a much higher survival rate than dropping them from a plane? If anyone has ever planted a seedling of any kind, it takes care not to damage them. President Roosevelt had his Tree Army plant 3 BILLION trees in the United States following the depression. I think its time to do the SAME thing again & include water way belts with Beavers to have deeper channels during the hotter seasons.

  11. Jayne Mason October 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    ok so can we do this to plant food crops in remote areas to feed the hungry. ox thanks for sharing. great story. Jayne

  12. patron zero October 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    To my understanding this is already done on a small scale inside the United States by marijuana farmers whom plant isolated or remote fields.

  13. tnisarg October 22, 2010 at 1:43 am

    DIM: Yes. I think you are talking about PROJECT EARTH

  14. Peter Simmons October 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Brit – This story is based on very, very old information and is also inaccurate. At no time was any commentary made about land mines and the company involved in the seeding technology failed to bring it to reality. It was never Lockheed Martin’s intent to be involved in the project, the company is merely the manufacturer of record for the C-130.

  15. whistler October 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Not only stress and shock from the drop; but delivering trees to the ground effectively enough to ensure proper seedling micro-sites and proper planting depths would be highly unlikely without the hands on approach from people making a living bent over cutovers.

    It\’s just not that easy to establish a good success rate.

    Mother Nature does not drop trees from the skies, she drops seeds. Think about it.

  16. 2582835 October 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Can anyone say monocropping plantation hell?!?

  17. tacdab October 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Really, Treehugger & Inhabitat? The original Guardian article quoted by Treehugger is from 1999. 1999. Eleven years ago. If you type “Aerial Forestation” and “Massachusetts” (the location of the company that wanted to do the thing) you get all of 10 hits — and most of those are just mindless copies of the Treehugger article. The company seems not to exist anymore. And the idea apparently didn’t work either.

    1999. Honestly, a little vetting please.

  18. dim October 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    It doesn’t say if they’ve actually tested the system. There was a Discovery channel special a couple years ago where they experimented with seed bombs. They tried using seed bombs to plant mangrove trees to restore the Lousiana coastal wetlands which act as a natural hurricane buffer. the experiments didn’t work. What I remember is that they tried dropping seed bombs from a plane but that didn’t work becuase they could get a good distribution. they ended up using forest fire helicopters that could fly much lower at a slower speed and get good spread.
    After all this experimentation with the drop mechanism they were finally able to drop seed bombs but the trees didn’t survive which i believe was due to the stress and shock to the sappling from being dropped.

    does anyone else remember the show I’m thinking of?

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home