Cultivation/Production, Equipment/Technology, Trends

Drones set to give global farming a makeover

A drone equipped with a camera hovers over potato crops in Peru.The traditional image of a farmer standing in a field, squinting anxiously at the sky for signs of rain, may be about to get a 21st-century makeover as researchers explore the use of drones on farms from Sri Lanka to Uganda. The ability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) to hover low over fields of maize, sweet potato and rice with sensoring devices promises benefits for individual farmers and their communities. For governments and development agencies, drones can provide more accurate, up-to-date information on what is being grown where. For individual farmers, this kind of information could be the difference between a failed crop and a bumper harvest. In September, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) carried out trials in Sri Lanka using an eBee drone equipped with a near-infrared sensor; the trials showed how this can give farmers early warning of problems anywhere in their fields. More

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