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Monday, December 18, 2017
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Drones help WCape farmers

A Phantom UAV.Elsenburg farmers in the Western Cape have found valuable ways to use drone technology in their farming efforts, so says Western Cape MEC for economic opportunities, Alan Winde.

Winde, attending a demonstration of how drones are being used at Elsenburg farm last week, said technology could drastically accelerate change in the agriculture sector.

According to him, Elsenburg farmers are using drones to conduct general monitoring flyovers, to assess vegetation health, track animals which may require assistance, as well as to assess stressed zones amongst crops that require watering and fertilisation.

In turn, this move has resulted in an upskilled workforce and savings in business costs.

"We've seen across Africa how technology can help us leapfrog other economies. In agriculture, which is generally perceived as being unprogressive, adoption of technology has in fact happened very quickly," said Winde.

Elsenburg drone expert, Arie van Ravenswaay, added that drone technology was leading to efficiency gains. "By giving farmers overview imagery in a very short space of time, and by allowing them to become more targeted, they're using less chemical fertilisers, resulting in reduced input costs and better margins. We have also seen farmers upskilling their employees into agri-technicians."

"A farmer from Laingsburg told me that he has already saved R20 000 in diesel by using his drone to check his water point, instead of using his vehicle," said van Ravenswaay.

Winde concluded: "The race is on to produce higher quality food with maximum efficiency to ensure we keep pace with growing demand. This increased competitiveness has the potential to grow our economy and create more jobs. By embracing technology, Africa can become the food basket of the planet."