Betting on drones for smarter pesticide use on farms
Cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and wireless communications are on the verge of revolutionizing well-established industries — and among the most remarkable examples is “smart agriculture,” which has seen a tremendous increase in the use of drones for various tasks.
Drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs), have been the focus of extensive research for agricultural applications. For example, they can take aerial images of a field and, through subsequent image processing, identify problems in specific areas of the crop fields. Another notable use case for UAVs that has been quickly gaining traction is the spraying of pesticides. In Japan, the number of hectares sprayed by drones saw a stunning 45-fold increase from 2016 to 2018. Similarly, the number of registered UAVs for agricultural spraying increased to 1,552, up from just 227, between those years.
While UAVs could be used to either replace or complement traditional pesticide spraying methods, it remains to be proven whether UAVs are superior to conventional methods in many regards.