Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
Distant water points and livestock are obvious things that require checking up on, and how better to do it than sending an unmanned aircraft (during the day or night) to confirm that all is in order. Useful applications of drones in agriculture revolve around:
- surveillance of livestock, vehicles etc
- damage and infrastructure inspection
- mapping the layout of lands (3D maps)
- spraying a crop (with pinpoint accuracy)
- a useful contribution to precision farming: to monitor things like crop health, determining nutrient needs of plants, fertiliser runoff, and how efficiently water is being used. Indeed, the evidence as presented in one role player’s website suggests that the quality of data from the drone surpasses that of satellites.
General concerns about UAVs centre around the potential misuse of these appliances: the loss of privacy and other security concerns.
Farmers will need to do their own sums about the value UAVs give to their operations. Consider:
- What additional information will be provided?
- What operations are performed more effectively by UAVs?
- Where will their use free up time on the farm for other task?
African business environment
In Africa, the major challenge to using drones in agriculture are the regulations governing their usage. These regulations are generally controlled by military and civil aviation authorities due to the sensitive nature of airspaces where UAVs operate. Currently only seven countries in Africa have regulations regarding drones. These include Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda and Ghana. In fact, the regulations in Kenya prohibit the use of the UAVs.
Source: “Future of drones in agriculture dependent on enactment of regulations”, an article in SACAU October 2016 newsletter.
National strategy and government contact
- Members of CUAASA (see under next heading) can find relevant legislation on www.cuaasa.org.
- Find the page on drone laws [regulations as stipulated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)] at www.dronedeals.co.za/south-african-drone-laws-7-most-important-rules/
- “Regulatory requirements for the use of drones for aerial application of agricultural remedies” can be read at https://croplife.co.za/regulatory-requirements-for-the-use-of-drones-for-aerial-application-of-agricultural-remedies/.
- Department of Transport www.transport.gov.za
- Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA) www.cuaasa.org
- South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) www.caa.co.za
Training & research
- ARC-Soil, Climate & Water (ARC-SCW) Harold Weepener – weepenerh [at] arc.agric.za, www.arc.agric.za
- ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Johan van Biljon Tel: 012 842 4017 www.arc.agric.za
- Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Knowledge and Information Services Professor Louis Fourie fourie1 [at] cput.ac.za www.cput.ac.za
- UAV Industries Flight School Tel: 021 834 3148 www.uavairport.capetown
- Western Cape Department of Agriculture Research and Technology Development Services, Arie van Ravenswaay arievr [at] elsenburg.com
- Aciel Geomatics Tel: 011 312 7450 www.aciel-geomatics.com
- Aerial Data Solutions Tel: 010 590 3327 www.rocketmine.com
- Aerobotics Tel: 021 035 1060 www.aerobotics.io Drone and satellite data provides pest and disease management systems for tree crop protection
- Agri Drone Tel: 081 861 4329 http://agridrone.co/
- Agribotix https://agribotix.com Agribotix processes and analyses agricultural data gathered by drones
- Awesome Aviation Tel: 011 540 7500 www.awesomeaviation.net
- Delta Drone Africa www.deltadrone.com
- DJI Drone Deals Tel: 021 224 0908 www.dronedeals.co.za
- Drone Africa Tel: 012 941 1666 www.droneafrica.co.za
- Dronetec Tel: 011 021 3869 www.dronetec.co.za
- Droneworld Tel: 012 140 0012 http://droneworld.co.za
- Easy UAV Tel: 084 659 7948 www.easyuav.co.za
- HVL Drones 081 350 7264
- Optron Tel: 012 683 4500 https://optron.com
- iQLaser Tel: 082 312 9730 www.iqlaser.co.za, www.sensefly.com Crop health monitoring
- Original Agricultural Business Systems (OABS) Tel: 087 095 2108 www.oabs.co.za agricultural drone services with the use of photogrammetry
- PACSys www.pacsys.co.za
- Swift Geospatial Agricultural Tel: 012 348 9555 http://swiftgeospatial.solutions/agriculture/
- Terracam Tel: 011 450 2407 www.terracam.co.za
- UAV Drone Solutions Tel: 011 447 7337 https://uavdronesolutions.com
- Van Zyl Aviation Consultants Tel: 012 997 6714 www.vanzylaviation.co.za
Websites and publications
- View the websites listed earlier e.g. the drone laws at www.dronedeals.co.za/south-african-drone-laws-7-most-important-rules/
- Find the articles on drones in agriculture at http://aerialfarmer.blogspot.co.za/
- Watch the video on a drone on a South African farm at http://landbou.com/videos/boer-spaar-baie-tyd-met-hommeltuig/
- A paper Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): the basics can be downloaded at http://cereals.ahdb.org.uk/media/11424/UAV%20paper%20web%20ready.pdf
- Find videos on Youtube like “From Drone to tractor – How using a precision farming UAV can improve crop management”, “Drones and the future of farming” (National Geographic), “Die Hommeltuig (RSG)”, “Landbou span hommeltuig” etc.
- Find the World Economic Forum (WEF)‘s Insight Report “Advanced Drone Operations Toolkit: Accelerating the Drone Revolution” at www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Advanced_Drone_Operations_Toolkit.pdf. It “provides a modular approach for governments to enable societally important and safe drone projects”.
- Explore 14 different applications with “The Ultimate Guide to Using Multispectral Imagery in Ag” at www.micasense.com/drones-in-ag.
- Smith G-L. 2021, March 30. “WC farmers get boost after drone project added to Agri Dept’s budget”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2021/03/30/wc-farmers-get-boost-after-drone-project-added-to-agri-dept-s-budget
- Prescott K. & Treanor S. 2020, April 7. “Drones in Africa: How they could become lifesavers”. BBC News. Available at www.bbc.com/news/business-51837296
- Reynolds E. 2019, October 18. “How technology is helping African farms to flourish”. CNN Business. Available at https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/18/business/smart-farming-africa-tech-intl/index.html
- Agri SA. 2019, May. “Agri SA and Aerobotics partner to offer free service for all South African farmers”. Agri-Beat. Available at www.agrisa.co.za/pressReleases/72080dc429cdf10579d2f810a8555783
- Fourie, L. 2019, April 12. “Opinion: Beware of the eye in the sky”. Business Report. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/opinion/opinion-beware-of-the-eye-in-the-sky-21013277
- Gouws, A. 2019, March 1. “Regulasies knip hommeltuie se vlerke”. Agriorbit. Available at www.agriorbit.com/regulasies-knip-hommeltuie-se-vlerke/ [regulations clip the wings of drones]
- Van Rooyen, C. 2019, February 8. “’n Toekoms waarin hommeltuie nie net vlieg nie”. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Bedrywe/Tegnologie/n-toekoms-waarin-hommeltuie-nie-net-vlieg-nie-20190206 [A future in which drones don’t only fly]
- Uys, G. 2018, August 22. “Drone technology maximises macadamia production”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-technology/farming-for-tomorrow/eye-sky-maximises-macadamia-production/
- Naidoo, P. 2018, July 7. “Nedbank bets on drones reshaping agri finance”. The Citizen. Available at https://citizen.co.za/business/1979585/nedbank-bets-on-drones-reshaping-agri-finance/
- Wolf, H. 2018, July 3. “We must regulate drones to democratise the sky for humanity”. Eye Witness News (courtesy of World Economic Forum). Available at http://ewn.co.za/2018/07/03/analysis-we-must-regulate-drones-to-democratize-the-sky-for-humanity
- Pedroncelli, P. 2017, September 6. “10 Ways In Which Drones Are Positively Impacting Industries Across Africa”. AFK Insider. Available at http://afkinsider.com/140633/10-ways-in-which-drones-are-positively-impacting-industries-across-africa
- Slater, D. 2017, September 22. “Building the safety case for operating drones beyond visual line of sight”. Engineering News. Available at www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/building-the-safety-case-for-operating-drones-beyond-visual-line-of-sight-2017-09-22
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