What role do drones play in the precision agriculture of the future?
The first applications indicate it is important that drone pilots, IT workers and agronomists are working together. (source image: VILT).
In Flanders, the EUKA, the Flemish drone cluster provides an overview of the main sectors where drones are being used, such as construction, surveillance, agriculture, technology, logistics, government and leisure.
EUKA was recognized by the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as an Innovative Business Network so that it can help this new economic sector. There is no lack of ambition because 5,000 jobs are expected in the drone industry by 2022. Applications in agriculture will have to be profitable if they want to break through, but the main problems are the small land parcels and the intensive nature of Flemish agriculture.
The West Flanders practice centre INAGRO opted to develop cereals – an extensive crop with low added value – as a test case. In 2017 for the first time they offered fertilisation advice based on data from drone images. (source images INAGRO).
This enabled farmers to develop site-specific,grain parcel fertilisation. “We also want to be able to do this for other crops in the long term, but for crops such as potatoes and vegetables, it is still too difficult to deliver fertilisation advice. We can only manage this for grains “, says Jonathan Van Beek, precision agriculture research leader at INAGRO.