XAG Drones has recently tested a new method of spraying sugarcanes in South Africa, which has resulted in a more productive ripening period.
Canes are usually sprayed via helicopter, but the use of drones has shown a significant one per cent increase in recoverable value from crops.
This comes after news that South Africa’s sugarcane industry is flagging.
The country is typically a global competitor in the sugar market but recent events have seen its production threatened by cheaper imports.
Use of the XAG P20 drone, the industry believes, could solve this problem.
It followed a pre-set flight route, operated at a fixed height 2-3 metres above the crops, and sprayed accurately into the target fields.
Results show that the traditional manned helicopter was considerably outperformed by the drone in both cane yield and quality of the harvested crops.
“This means a lot to us. With higher sugar extracted from every tons of sugarcane, we get paid higher and my farms become more profitable,” said Kim Hein, a licensed operator of XAG drones as well as a cane grower, who has been testing the feasibility of drone spraying solution in sugarcane cultivation.
Thanks to the smaller size and better fuel efficiency of drones, it is hoped that farmers will save on costs too, especially as commercial UAVs become an increasingly affordable option.