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Drones lift the Free State Province’s farming sector

31 May 2024 News

Information and communication technology distributor Rectron has made a R351 000 drone system donation to the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, in the province that serves as South Africa’s breadbasket. The investment seeks to enhance the institution’s ability to unlock a myriad smart farming solutions through drone training, licensing, and ongoing compliance.

“More than a once-off project, this marks the latest in a wider series of strategic and ongoing investments into southern Africa’s drone technological capacity and best practice,” said Spencer Chen, Rectron CEO. “The DJI Agras T40 drone we acquired for the University offers the most advanced, high-quality precision aerial capabilities to start making a positive impact in the Free State’s agricultural sector, which we have recognised as vital to South African food security.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development estimates that agriculture accounts for 90% of land use in the Free State, with field crops yielding almost two-thirds, animal products contributing a further 30%, and the balance generated by horticulture into the gross agricultural income of the province. Agriculture contributes around 9% of the Free State’s gross domestic product, which contributes the second largest portion of revenue from agriculture for the country.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research sees the use of commercial drones and smart farming techniques as keys to the effective management of farming operations at all scales in the response to volatile weather events, dry seasons, and swarms of pests, such as the devasting locust infestation of the 2021/22 summer season. As such, the global drone market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25% between 2022 and 2031, driven primarily by sectors like agriculture.

“Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (AUVs), equipped with advance sensors and imaging technology, can be quickly, easily and accurately deployed over vast territories of land (including those inaccessible by foot or vehicles) by licensed drone pilots,” says Ruan Botha, Rectron product manager. “Data collected can then be used to generate detailed reports on soil health, topography, animal movement, and a host of other conditions in real time, informing more targeted interventions.”

For more information visit www.rectron.co.za




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