In agriculture, the biggest challenge that drone technology is going to overcome is the manpower shortage. Source: AFP

In agriculture, the biggest challenge that drone technology is going to overcome is the manpower shortage. Source: AFP

Is it time for drones to make a debut in the agricultural sector?

BESIDES getting cool aerial shots of geographies, drone technology is expanding its popularity in agricultural use as well.

The demand for agricultural technology (AgTech) is on the rise as farmlands experience growing challenges from all sides.

Now, the global drone market is worth US$9 billion. Observations show that there’s a shift in focus towards developing industrial drones instead.

The forecasted world population of 9.8 billion by 2050 is pressuring for more food supply than ever. Moreover, stricter requirements are placed upon the agricultural sector as food science technology aggressively looks for new solutions.

However, the biggest challenge that the AgTech is going to overcome is the manpower shortage resulting from urban migration and an aging population among farmers.

South China Morning Post reported that China expects a growth in the drone technology market as it expects to boost agricultural yields.

The most obvious void that drone technology is filling up in the Chinese agricultural economy is its manpower shortage.

Many Chinese leave their homes in the countryside to accept city-based jobs as factory workers, restaurant helps, and building cleaners.

Drones swarms in for the rescue as the elderly generation of farmers catch up with age but not agricultural technology.

In China, a drone company rakes in RMB3 million (US$45,000) per annum for spraying insecticides over farmlands.

The team consists of 30 drone pilots that use the technology to cover greater perimeter than manual labor ever will.

What about other countries in APAC?

Last year, Thailand began its use of AgTech quoting manpower shortage to be the core reason for the machine introduction.

It was the first Southeast Asian country to deploy drones to deal with farming sector’s biggest problem yet.

That is to say, drone technology has always been the technology that negates the lack of manpower supply in the country’s agricultural sector.

This is because newer models have a single controller feature that manages up to five drones, so this will save on human resources even more.

Bangkok Post explained the amount of time saved from deploying automation and precision farming methods.

“Tasks that took 2-3 days for human labor can be finished within 2-3 hours with a drone.”

Similarly, the agricultural sector further down in Australia has also embraced drone technology.

Using drones, farmers are able to “improve the quality and size of yield through precise data interpretation.”

As the world population scales, food supply will also have to expand exponentially.

In other words, the world’s agricultural sector is ripe for a digital shift. From vertical farming to drone technologies and food data science, investments are about to pour in.

To sum it up, AgTech is exciting to watch mature in a very unique way because its purpose is more pressing than any other. It is going to shape the course of our collective survival.