Modernizing Sub-Saharan Agriculture Using Drone Technology

by Olalekan Abdulsalami on 24 Aug 2019 • 3 comments
3 min read

For a while now, different technological devices have been introduced for the improvement of African agriculture one of which is the use of drones for precision farming, and this has been considered a game-changer for the agricultural sector in the whole continent.
In the past 5 years, drones have become more prevalent. Initially, they were developed for war and that is why they have gained a bad reputation. But the exciting news about using drones for agriculture is that it brings with it tremendous opportunities to experience new things and solve challenges that we have been unable to solve so far. 

An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle applied to farm in order to help increase crop production and monitor crop growth. Sensor and digital imaging capabilities can give farmers a richer picture of their fields. This information may prove useful in improving crop yields and farm efficiency.

Agricultural drones let farmers see their fields from the sky. This bird's eye view can reveal many issues such as irrigation problems, soil variation, pest, and fungal infestations. Multi-spectral images show a near-infrared view as well as a visual spectrum view. The combination shows the farmer the differences between healthy and unhealthy plants, a difference not always clearly visible to the naked eye. Thus, these views can assist in assessing crop growth and production.
Additionally, the drone can survey the crops for the farmer periodically to their liking. Weekly, daily, or even hourly, pictures can show the changes in the crops over time, thus showing possible “trouble spots”. Having identified these trouble spots, the farmer can attempt to improve crop management and production.

Drones have the potential to change the way even small farmers run their farms by providing the information they need to implement better practices. “Precision agriculture,” for example, is an innovative approach to farming that is gaining support around the world. The central idea of this method is to determine the precise timing and quantities of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and other inputs that should be applied to crops.

Drones are extremely important for the modernization of African agriculture, as they bring greater efficiency, precision, and reliability at a much lower cost. Drones allow us to optimize agricultural yields as they significantly reduce costs linked to production. In general, farmers use fertilizers and crop protection products across their entire farm, although only certain specific areas really require the treatment. Drones allow us to identify the precise areas where intervention is required, therefore reducing the costs linked to agricultural inputs and labor. Spraying drones perfectly complement this process, as they are then able to apply the products with even greater precision.

The benefits of using drone technology in agriculture cannot be quantified. Being able to have unrestricted access to crops life right from planting seeds to harvesting is a game-changer and would prove immense value to farmers who would otherwise struggle with inputs optimization, enabling it to react more quickly to threats (weeds, pests, fungi), save time crop scouting (validate treatment/actions taken), improve variable-rate prescriptions in real-time and estimate yield from a field.

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If you have more suggestions on how drones will improve African agriculture, let us know in the comment section below.

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  1. Maria E. A. Ukpanyang

    01 Sep 2019 AT 11:16 AM

    Interesting. To my village we have never seen this technology and we are small scale village farmers. How can you improve our lot? We are very ready to learn and improve ourselves.
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    19 Sep 2019 AT 11:06 AM

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