Farmers' Pest Control Improves through SA Drone Technology

Cape Times (South Africa), July 13, 2018 | Go to article overview

Farmers' Pest Control Improves through SA Drone Technology


DRONE technology can help farmers reduce their reliance on chemicals to control pests on their crops by up to 30 percent, resulting in less stressed plants and a healthier harvest, according to Jean Kuiper, the owner of Rosenhof Organic Farm in Elgin, 70km south-east of Cape Town.

The farm produces organic vegetables, apples and pears, organic raspberries and also has free-range chickens.

Kuiper uses drone technology from Aerobotics, a Cape Town-based firm, as a tool for improved agricultural outcomes. She said farmers understood the value of a scout as it reduced the chemical input by up to 30 percent.

Aerobotics is a data analytics company, which uses aerial imagery and machine learning algorithms to optimise crop performance for farmers around the world through its cloud-based web app Aeroview. It is setting the standard for crop analytics globally.

Aerobotics was started in 2014 by founders Benjamin Meltzer and James Paterson.

Kuiper said one needs to understand that the healthier the crop, whether it was a tree or potato plant, the more resistant it was to insects. She said insecticides and fungicides were not healthy for plants and caused them to be stressed.

Kuiper said all insecticides killed the natural predators, which feed on the plant. "We need to improve soil health to improve human health and the less chemicals we use, the less toxic we make it," said Kuiper.

Invaluable

The Aeroview Scout is a mobile-based app from Aerobotics that enables farmers to take their insights into the field by working off-line and syncs in-field findings to when wi-fi is connected.

"That information is invaluable to the farmer, because he knows that orchard has a particular problem and sprays accordingly. He doesn't just go and spray the whole lot, he sprays what he needs, and immediately he will drop his chemical input by 30 percent. That's our experience on the farm," said Kuiper. …

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