The era of global agricultural climate disasters is defined by drones

Agriculture is a freshwater company, but the rise in sea level caused by the world of warming threatens it, especially in the delta where the sea-estuary boundary is fluid. Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is one of the food producing areas under such threat. A 2021 study found that rising sea levels increased the salinity of water, or the amount of salt in water. This exacerbates the problem of salt damage upstream caused by mining and road runoff, and significantly reduces the amount of land that can be cultivated.

Facing the future population presents many difficult challenges, both technical and political. But for farmers, when it comes to managing their day-to-day business and planning investments for decades or more of growth, new technologies are at hand to adapt to agriculture in a warming world. Is formed.

Drone-assisted agriculture is not a new field, but a young one. Much of the focus on camera-equipped drones focuses on high-end expensive military models and crashes surrounded by improperly maneuvered holiday gift trees. The commercial work of drones and drone pilots, where low-cost flying machines are used as a platform for collecting data and providing field processing, continues to be sold to farmers and plays a variety of roles, promising to increase profits. It is being used more and more.

“”Drones can not only save you effort, but also make them more accurate.Faster and safer … and it can help us more easily deal with the effects of climate change such as less rain

— — Manit Boonkhiew, Banmai Community Rice Center

One such example is a drone manufactured by Chinese agricultural robot company XAG and sold directly to farmers in Southeast Asia and the Mekong Delta. In early May, XAG announced that the use of drone-provided seed and pesticide sprays and drone-grown fertilizers helped Vietnamese farmers “grow more rice with less resources.” Did.

The company’s video release in January 2022 illustrates this. In the video, a twin rotor drone is spraying a chemical spray on a mango field in Vietnam. The drone flies with the touch of a smartphone app, and unlike the runway-bound crop duster, it can quickly fire and land on a small patch of gravel. XAG has been involved in drone-enhanced agriculture since around 2012-2013.

“The use of drones to distribute pesticides, micronutrients, or herbicides is a recent application,” Giacomo Rambaldi, a senior consultant in agricultural digital technology, told The Daily Beast. “Initially, drones were used to collect high-resolution multispectral images to perform crop diagnostics.”

An example of this is from Sebastopol, a vineyard in California, DRNK. DRNK released news in 2013 for using drone photogrammetry to assess grape health and grape preparation. DRNK wine maker Ryan Kunde contrasted the use of drones for mapping with photography from hired planes.

“You need to schedule the company that owns the plane to fly at least a week in advance, when you may not know which vineyard you want to see,” Kunde told 3D Robotics. Since then, DRNK has used drone photos to select where to harvest and where to plant.

If ease of use and convenience of timing have brought drone farming to California winemakers, it’s the low cost that allows them to reach the freshwater-hungry Mekong Delta.

“Drones can not only save you effort, but also make them more accurate. They are faster, safer and help you deal with the effects of climate change, such as less rain, because they are not exposed to chemicals. “Masu,” said Manit Boonkey, leader of the Bangmai Community Rice Center Farm in Thailand. Reuters..

The drone used is often just a platform, with task-specific parts acting as payloads. These payloads start with sensors such as cameras, but can also include chemical atomizers that can be attached to the body of the drone for remote pilots to fly.

Drones are part of a broader field of precision agriculture, using state-of-the-art tools that accurately target interventions such as pesticides and fertilizers, allowing humans to walk and inspect fields before applying treatment. I will omit it. These interventions save labor and material costs rather than yield gains, but the ability to apply interventions only when needed offsets the cost of looking at drones and other such techniques. Enough for

A 2021 study of precision agriculture in Italy found that using tools such as drones reduced labor costs by 20%. This savings came from more effectively directing the workforce where it was needed, just by applying additional fertilizer to the struggling patches rather than the entire field.

Using a drone to estimate yield means creating a specific image recognition program that can determine the health of a crop from photographs. Finding a healthy orange in an orchard is easy. In orchards, untrained eyes can clearly see the ripeness of the fruit, but it can also be found in other crops where it may not be so obvious.

“I now know a company in Ethiopia that works to provide the government with a means of estimating the yield of weeds, one of the country’s five strategically important major crops,” Lamberdi said. Told. SOWIT is one such precision agriculture company, using drones to assist Ethiopian farmers.

This data can be processed through the cloud on a remote server or by a computer at or near its location. For small farmers who might use their drone to map fields, the cloud works if they have a reliable internet connection. However, for companies that sell precision agriculture as a service, remote processing is often part of the package.

“Doing that in the cloud requires a lot of bandwidth because the data is collected. [Unmanned Aerial System] It’s huge, “said Lamberdi. He later added that “connectivity is one of the barriers to this type of service, unless the service provider does the local processing.”

“”What your grandfather did, and what it worked for 50 years ago, no longer works today.

— — Giacomo Lamberdi

Other tasks, such as pesticide spraying, are directly preceded by crew air or foot spray, but were developed primarily with sensors, using drones for data acquisition. There is no need to pre-replace the real industry of digitally processed aerial photography. The ability to collect and process data has added new tools to the farmer’s toolkit. This can replace the human effort of walking in the fields and spraying pests.

However, it is important to understand the toolkit as part of a modern approach to agriculture, not as a revolution in itself.

“I think there’s a lot of hype about what technology can do, and there’s limited scientific evidence of a positive return on investment,” says Lamberdi. “The fact that there is hearsay evidence and the farmers are paying for the service is clearly evidence that the farmers are returning to it,” he added.

Lamberdi states that farmers are generally conservative when it comes to changing approaches and introducing new technologies, preferring to trust food supplies over technologies that are known and trusted across generations. .. But on warming planets, climate forces them to incorporate new tools to regulate and help them.

“What your grandfather did, and what worked 50 years ago, doesn’t work anymore today,” Lamberdi said. “We want to use all 1 liter of water in the best possible way. We also use UAS to identify where our crops need water and apply it accordingly.”


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