Drone demonstration via the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica
Drone demonstration via the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica

Over the last few decades technology in agriculture has been growing and developing. Modern farmers and agricultural operators are developing new technologies and innovations each day to increase production and productivity. One of the latest trends developing today is the introduction of DRONE technology.

Isn’t it interesting to see how this toy looking gadget could make a positive input into agriculture? Technology and innovation has no limits to shape, size, form or fashion,which is quite intriguing to me.

So what is a DRONE? How does this associate or affect agriculture. Some people may know drones as a flying machine used in the military as a weapon of warfare. Others may know it as an aerial craft with multiple cameras.

In the agri world world the drone we speak of is the aerial craft or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with high resolution detailed imagery, thermal imaging and multi spectral cameras. the agriculture

Most drone mapping and data collection occur autonomously. This technology can be used in a variety of professions such as project management, security, journalism, emergency and humanitarian relief.

So how does this help agriculture. Drones or UAV’s can be used for numerous purposes such as:

  • Helping farmers monitor their crops cross the region
  • Validate and count animals in a herd or crop
  • Survey the topography of the land for use
  • To identify drainage issues and moisture content of the field

This in turn, would assist farmers in addressing factors affecting production and help boost crop yield by

  • Producing healthier crops or livestock
  • Produce more food on less land with less water and fewer chemicals
  • Reduce labour intensive task and wastage
  • Preventing predial larceny and growth of pest and disease
  • Producing more accurate record keeping and volume estimate

Some Government Ministries have already started to collaborate with local companies to introduce this new innovation to their local farmers, as shown in Jamaica via the picture above.

Despite these fabulous pros there are a few cons to drones. One of the major barriers is the regulations set around the use of drones. Some countries have non at all, but others most secure air safety and privacy rights. Lack of knowledge on the use of drones and how to process the data is an issue that can be fixed with training.

In the Caribbean there are very few regulations. For example in Trinidad and Tobago, a drone owner must register his device with the Fire services of Trinidad and Tobago.

The view is that the drone is a potential hazard or risk to human well being if it falls onto someone or starts a fire. In this case a simple registration works to track the users and the like but it is yet to be seriously enforced as with many other regulations in the country. It’s like having a licensed item.

Of course such a simple, unspecified system will not work for countries were the security risks are high.

Even so given that the uptake of ICTs in agriculture is typically quite slow in the region, it is very refreshing to see that this technology is making its presence felt.

Not too mention fascinating to know the capabilities of this fun technology.

Drones are the future and day by day it is being adopted into the industry, therefore with proper limitations, it would be a useful asset to the agricultural sector.

Written by Krystle Gay, Social Media Support, Tech4agri

Edited by Keron Bascombe

Drones over the Caribbean

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