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DroneSeed drone
DroneSeed’s aerial vehicles drop water and seeds for reforestation. (DroneSeed via YouTube)

Seattle-based DroneSeed has raised more than $5 million in funding for a venture that uses drones to plant trees and sustain them from the air, according to documents filed this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Nov. 16 filing says 19 investors contributed to the funding round, with $260,000 of a $5.3 million offering remaining to be sold.

DroneSeed declined to identify the investors or provide further details about the investment.

In an email to GeekWire, DroneSeed CEO Grant Canary said the level of investment reported in the filing may change. More details are expected early next year.

Canary and fellow entrepreneur Ryan Mykita founded the company in 2015 in Beaverton, Ore. DroneSeed was selected to be part of the Techstars Seattle startup program last year and moved its base to Seattle.

DroneSeed uses sensor-equipped drones to create detailed 3-D maps of logged areas, identifies the best “microsites” where trees can be planted, and then deploys drones to fire custom-designed seed capsules. Water, fertilizer and herbicides can also be delivered via drones.

The FAA-approved system is designed to conduct reforestation campaigns more efficiently and less expensively than the manual process that’s used today. Timber companies and other forest managers pay DroneSeed by the acre as a service.

“Our drones are neat, and they have the ability to deliver seeds or spray, but our best bet is on our ability to determine ideal planting sites down to centimeters, assuring tree survival and growth,” Canary told GeekWire in a Startup Spotlight interview last year.

He said reforestation brings a longer-term payoff as well, by boosting the forest ecosystem’s ability to soak up carbon dioxide emissions.

DroneSeed has been conducting several paid pilot programs, including a watershed restoration project for Clean Water Services, an Oregon utility. It’s currently hiring part-time drone pilots and expects to scale up operations next year.

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