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)
- 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:
2. 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.
3. National strategy and government contact
Find relevant legislation under “Knowledge base” at www.cuaasa.org, website of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA). The response of the industry to the initial regulations was unenthusiastic. Other countries which had integrated UAVs into their spaces had less onerous and complex legislation in place, and government was encouraged to see how it had been done there.
Department of Transport www.transport.gov.za
4. Role players
Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA) www.cuaasa.org
Training & research
- ARC-Soil, Climate & Water (ARC-SCW) Harold Weepener - weepenerh [at] arc.agric.za, www.arc.agric.za
- 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
- Agri Drone Tel: 081 861 4329 http://agridrone.co/
- Airsecure Schalk de Villiers 083 255 5110 www.airsecure.co.za
- Allen Associates Tel: 041 581 2265 www.allenassociates.co.za
- Awesome Aviation Tel: 011 540 7500 www.awesomeaviation.net
- 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
- iQLaser Tel: 082 312 9730 www.iqlaser.co.za, www.sensefly.com
- Promaneng Consulting Tel: 083 285 5511 http://promaneng.co.za
- Terracam Tel: 011 450 2407 www.terracam.co.za
- UAV Industries Flight School Tel: 021 834 3148 http://www.uavairport.capetown/
- Van Zyl Aviation Consultants Tel: 012 997 6714 www.vanzylaviation.co.za
5. Websites and publications
- Find the articles on drones in agriculture at http://aerialfarmer.blogspot.co.za/
- Read the article on seven ways that drones are assisting farmers at www.farmandranchjobs.com/journal/drones-on-the-farm-7-ways-they-are-helping-farmers/
- 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.
- 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