South African farmers in the Western Cape have found valuable ways to use drone technology to boost their agricultural output and methods, leading to an upskilled workforce and general cost cutting.
Elsenburg farmers are using drones to conduct general monitoring flyovers, assess vegetation health, track and monitor animals which may need assistance, as well as to assess stressed zones among crops that require watering and fertilisation.
South Africa’s Western Cape province, famous for world-class wines that are sought after globally, is using the new technology to maximize efficiency and keep up with the increasing demand for farmed goods.
Western Cape member of the executive council for economic opportunities, Alan Winde recently attended a demonstration of how drones are being used at Elsenburg farm, and he was pleased with how technology could be used to significantly accelerate change in the agriculture sector.
“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.
“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,” Winde added.
Drone technology leading to efficiency gains
Arie van Ravenswaay is a drone expert in Elsenburg, and he revealed that the use of drone technology in farming was producing noticeable and sustainable 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,” Van Ravenswaay explained.
“We have also seen farmers upskilling their employees into agri-technicians. A farmer from Laingsburg told me that he has already saved R20,000 (the equivalent of $1,530) in diesel by using his drone to check his water point, instead of using his vehicle,” he added.