• Zooming ahead

    Zooming ahead

    Over the past few years, drone technology has given the continent’s agriculture industry a digital makeover, thanks to advanced crop spraying, planting, irrigation and monitoring techniques – not to mention soil and field analysis. And now, according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), labour related to data collection can also be added to that list.

    As reported by SciDevNet, preliminary analysis by the CIMMYT has found that a drone is able to collect data from 1 000 plots in 10 minutes or less, whereas it can take up to eight hours to perform the same task manually. Using a drone for data collection related to maize breeding can also reduce costs by at least 10%.

    However, drone technology will not replace the need for human participation entirely. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, plant geneticist and director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement at the University of Ghana, cautions that ‘many African countries do not have trained plant breeders to conduct effective crop breeding’. It’s therefore crucial that more plant breeders and field technicians are trained in a bid to boost productivity.

    22 March 2017
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images