Agri drones: A booming trend | SunStar

Agri drones: A booming trend

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Agri drones: A booming trend

Monday, October 23, 2017

DAVAO. This agricultural drone shown in the picture has a 25-kg capacity and can be used to spray pesticide, fungicide, herbicide, or nutrients over crops and can last about 30 minutes in the air before the contents needed to be refilled and the batteries be swapped. (Macky Lim)

AGRICULTURAL drone sprays, which are more efficient and health-friendly than manual crop spraying, are thought to be the next trend in agriculture in Davao Region, said executive.

During the Banana Congress held at the SMX Convention Center last October 12, one of the several exhibitors was the My Drone Services, a company based in Pampanga and just recently came to Davao, that specializes in agricultural drones.

“My Drone Services is a Philippine company. We are here in Davao and also Pampanga. We offer turnkey solutions for people that want to hire us to do agricultural spray. If you have banana crops, sugar cane, pomelo, that sort of thing, you can contract us, we’ll bring the drone and the pilots and we will then spray the crop area you want us to spray on a one offer on a regular basis,” said My Drone Services president and CEO Bryce Mitchell.

Aside from getting hired to do massive pesticide, herbicide, or nutrient spraying, Mitchell said they also provide plant-health analysis services wherein the drones fly over the area and analyze where there are distressed plants that needed more attention from the farmers through targeted spraying.

My Drone Services came to Davao Region April of this year and since then have entered into talks and negotiation with banana companies in Mindanao such as the Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (Tadeco) and Del Monte Philippines.

“The benefits we see, it’s more of environmentally-friendly. There’s less over-spray. So there’s also less risk to people, from a health-safety perspective. We also see that it’s gonna be cost-effective versus using hands spray which still needs to be done but drones can really help you with the tough terrain areas and the more irregular-shaped areas. We won’t replace crop spray, but we can help be more efficient on the fringe areas and the hard-to-reach areas. And also, we can fly at night. You can do nighttime operations. So really, you can do 24-hour operations,” Mitchell said.

They have partnered with the APAT, the leading manufacturer of agricultural drone in South Korea. Currently, they already have four commercial drones in the region. Their company has also partnered with DJI, a Chinese manufacturer of commercial drones as well.

Depending on the services needed by their clients and the type of terrain that they are going to provide services for, Mitchell said their price starts with P1,000 to P1,500 per hectare and could possibly go up from there.

They have a 1 kilogram drone which is primarily used for survey purposes especially when creating topographical map or volumetric analysis of a farm.

A much bigger drone can be used for survey purposes as well for terrain 3D topographical map. The largest one, those that weigh about 25 kilograms are used for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or nutrients spraying and can last for 30 minutes in the air before the contents would be refilled and the batteries be swapped. Mitchell said their tanks attached to the drones are compatible with any sprays.

Aside from agricultural purposes, they have also offered assistance to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for risk assessment and relief goods delivery especially to areas that cannot be penetrated by any type of vehicle after a calamity.

Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on October 23, 2017.

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