Drone Farming

Learn more about how drones are improving agricultural efficiencies

The use of drones for agriculture has been unequivocally proven over the past few years and there is still huge scope for development in the field.

In very broad sweeps, a drone is defined as a ‘remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft or small flying device.’ Various industries have successfully made use of the technology in recent times and the (positive) uses are growing by the day. From the health sector to filming and photography and even companies such as Amazon (for deliveries) have tapped into the remote-controlled world.

While the agriculture sector was a slightly slower adopter, in recent years drones have become a vital implement in the modern farmer’s tool shed. Across the world, farmers are also using agricultural drones for seed planting, irrigation monitoring and real-time livestock management among a host of other things.

Currently, in Africa, two of the most common uses currently are drone surveying and crop spraying. 

Drone surveying entails the use of high-resolution cameras and infrared sensors mounted on a drone to create a picture of infield crop conditions and crop progress. The premise of drone surveying is the same as with satellite crop monitoring, but it has the added advantage of monitoring in real-time. Drone surveying is also useful in getting a clearer picture of an entire field and can operate below cloud cover, to name but a few of the long list of pros.

Drone spraying is fast replacing boom sprayers and high-rise sprayers to apply crop chemicals, as well as taking the place of contracted aerial crop sprayers. This chemical application by drones is cheaper than traditional high boy sprayers and does not require the farmer to hire a commercial aircraft crop sprayer. Chemical spraying drones also allow a farmer to spray more hectares within a day than was originally possible. In addition, it also allows farmers to carry out their applications on time, as there is no waiting on a contractor before applying herbicides or pesticides.

One pertinent point in the use of drones is licensing. For various applications (such as spraying) a special drone licence is required as well as approved light planning software.

Unitrans Africa is a leader in precision agriculture technology in Africa. They have built up a large footprint in Africa owing to their expertise and a reputation for constant agricultural innovation. They now have a solid base of agricultural operations in many African countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Together with other precision agriculture practices, that Unitrans Africa offers (soil sampling, VRA fertiliser application, field leveling, and yield mapping), drone surveying and spraying may be part of the process to address all aspects of your farming initiatives, in order to reduce costs and increase yields.

Get to know more about the use of drones for agricultural efficiencies at Unitrans Africa’s drone demo days in Malawi in May: Tuesday, 10 May 2022: Dwangwa – DCGL Field DG 4 (09:00 – 11:00). Thursday, 12 May 2022: Eastern Produce Kasembereka Estate (Thyolo) (14:00 – 18:00). Tuesday, 17 May 2022: Kawalazi Estate (10:00 – 12:00).

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Header Photo by: Flo Maderebner.