Agricultural Drone: A New Age Solution For agriculturist
By Segun Michael Adeyemi
Technology is becoming a growing phenomenon in man’s everyday activities. It is has become a major part of man’s existence, thanks to numerous innovations and inventions that have made life easier for mankind. The use of technology these days covers virtually the entire set-up that makes up man’s daily activities, be it in business/trading, construction, telecom, I.T, security, transport, agriculture and a host of others.
However, in the agricultural sector, technology has been adopted as a major tool for advancement in large scale farm produce and healthy harvest. The latest technology making rounds in the agricultural sector is the use of drones in agriculture.
The agricultural drone is a growing technology that has received wide acceptance in the western world with a far-reaching effect in enabling healthy growth in cropping and livestock. The synergy between agriculture and drone has heightened a huge demand for drones, and also encouraged a stress-free farming method for mankind.
The agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle used for mechanized farming and in turn, helps in the increase of crop production and monitoring crop growth. It’s an innovation that uses sensors and digital imaging features that gives farmers a better picture of their fields. This information may prove useful in improving crop yields and farm efficiency.
As a global trend, the agricultural drone has been hugely invested upon by major agricultural heavyweights in the agricultural sector across Europe, Asia and North America. The application of drones for mechanized farming is popular in European nations like the U.K, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. While in Asia, countries like China, Japan, India, and Australia have all induced the use of drone in farming. However, in North-America, the U.S and Mexico appear to be the forerunners of the drone technology likewise Brazil for South America.
In the African continent, drone technology is gradually gaining presence. Though not popular, the technology has been introduced through the use of awareness projects and training for farmers in countries like Cameroon, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and a few others.
However, the agricultural drone market has been solely dominated by Europe and The Americas. They constitute the major players of the application of this technology for mechanized farming with various companies from the region utilizing the technology for agricultural produce.
The major players operating in the global agriculture drone market are AeroVironment, Inc. (U.S.), Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (Israel), SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., (China), Precision Hawk Inc. (U.S.), Trimble Inc. (U.S.), Parrot S.A. (France), Microdrones GmbH (Germany), AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc. (U.S.), American Robotics, Inc. (U.S.), Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (Japan), and Sentera, Inc. (U.S.), among others.
These agricultural companies have been able to seize the benefit of this invention to their advantage, thereby, causing a huge increase in productivity as a result of high demands in agricultural produce ranging from cash crops to livestock.
According to a forecast by experts, it has been estimated that the global agriculture drone market was valued around USD 9.9 billion in 2018 and it is expected to register a CAGR 7.13% during the forecast period (2019-2024).
These findings are as a result of the high level of demand for food supply across the globe, high demand for drones by agricultural companies, the growing info-tech in agriculture, rising automation in agriculture, the growing emphasis on enhancing agriculture efficiency, and rising need for water conservation across the globe. This and many are the ranging factors for the sudden boost in the agricultural drone market.
Similarly, Agricultural drone holds a very high advantage in farming. Many have described it has “precision agriculture”, a method of using less to get more. The use of drones in farming is cost-efficient, as a matter of fact, it is the most important benefit to farming as it helps farm owners to save more in that, one would not have to pay as many labourers as required when using man-power. In a situation whereby, 100 labourers are needed for crop assessment, the drones can easily do all of that faster and better.
Also, in a situation where there’s a shortage of labour, agricultural drones are a perfect alternative to carry out farming activities as it can easily cover for limited manpower. This, in turn, will help improve productivity as man’s level of demand for agricultural produce rises day by day.
The agricultural drone has been able to aid quick crop management as it can help spot underperforming crops that need attention for better yield. It is the most effective tool for (pre and post) farming activities. In terms of climate change, drones can be very useful for irrigation. With the use of drones, places, where a reasonable amount of water is needed, can be easily spotted. Agricultural drones are very important in planting and fertilization as well, as it can be used in the application of fertilizer to the crops.
Putting into consideration all these numerous benefits of agricultural drones, it will be great if the African agricultural market can adopt this new age technological wonder, most especially Nigeria. Agricultural was one time Nigeria’s primary source of revenue, it will afford Nigeria and other African countries unlimited benefits adopting this technology into their agricultural sector.
To illustrate, the Nigerian agricultural market is estimated to operate around 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation season to season, as against the estimated 78.5 million hectares of land that is required for farming to feed Nigeria’s growing population. A large majority of farmers in Nigeria operates at a subsistence level with an average of 4–5 acres each, under rain-fed conditions.
Though this population of farmers do not have an inclination of modern farming practise, but the available farmers with sophisticated farming gears can easily adopt the drone farming system, as it will enable an increase in the agricultural market, projecting Nigeria as a leading force in the African agricultural market.