Food forum predicts valuable future role for drones

Drones can play a critical role in helping farmers with limited resources to produce more food to feed a growing world, a conference in the Netherlands was told.

Copa and Cogeca, the umbrella body for European farmers and co-ops, highlighted the hi-tech approach at the conference on ‘European Space Solutions: Bringing Space to Earth.’

It described the use of drones in agriculture as an additional agronomic tool that can help to enhance resource efficiency, productivity and profitability as well as ensure greater sustainability.

Digitally enhanced agriculture, precision farming automated vehicles, robots, informatics, satellite imaging and remote sensing were also identified as having the potential to play a major role.

“In particular, precision agriculture offers great opportunities in terms of minimising inputs and maximising productivity, providing a whole new farm management approach. The use of drones in agriculture shows great potential.

“Along with other ‘smart’ techniques, drones can contribute to enhanced resource efficiency, productivity, profitability and sustainability, contributing to the fight against environmental damage.

“They are now used to complement traditional remote-sensing techniques and enable farmers to monitor nutrients in the soil and herd monitoring,” it said.

Copa and Cogeca welcomed a recent decision by Brussels to ask the European Aviation Safety agency to develop a set of rules for drones.

However, it said it believes it is crucial to strike the right balance between regulation and innovation and to ensure prescriptive rules are proportional to the complexity of the operation.

Innovation, research and smart farming is also the topic of a workshop at the Copa & Cogeca Congress of European Farmers in Greece on October 5-6 this year.

Meanwhile, drone activity in the US is expected to focus come on farms, which are mostly free of the privacy and safety concerns associated with populated areas.


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