Is this new autonomous agriculture drone the future of farming in Brazil? I’m here now in front of a beautiful rice
field in the rural neighborhood of Villa Nova, in the city of Joinville, in the southern
Brazilian state of Santa Catarina and today we are going try to answer that very question. The autonomous agriculture drone featured
in this episode of Rice Farming TV has some pretty impressive specs. It weighs 55 pounds (25 kilos) and holds 4
gallons (15 liters) of tank mixture. The drone requires 4 batteries and has a flight
duration of 15 minutes with a full payload. With 6 spray nozzles the drone can autonomously
spray 2.5 acres (1 hectare) per flight or 15 acres (6 hectares) per hour of
operation. Later in the video we’ll find out how this
application rate compares to an average, traditional tractor/spray boom operation here in this
region of Brazil. This particular drone is a tool used by Agrize,
a precision farming and agricultural information technology company that is based in Villa
Nova, Joinville. They have invited me into their office to
see how the field mapping and coordinate generation is done before the autonomous drone takes
flight. A computer application called Mission Planner,
which resembles Google Earth, provides satellite imagery of the targeted field. With a simple click of the mouse a perimeter
can be drawn around the field or a portion of the field. The program automatically generates way-points
and illustrates the flight path of the drone. All this information is communicated wirelessly
from Mission Planner to the drone. You do not need to physically map the field
as was required by the autonomous agriculture drone previously featured in Episode 41 of
Rice Farming TV. Link to that demonstration is in the description. Once the flight map has been generated and
communicated to the drone we just need to set everything up on location; at a local
rice farm containing an Agrize managed test plot. Since the mapping was done back at the Agrize
office the drone automatically links up to the waypoints and begins its precision spray
application. A lot of people ask how the prop wash from
the drone’s rotors affect coverage. As you can see here, and in my opinion, the
coverage is excellent and uniform as the prop wash actually exposes more of the plant to
the spray application. Although after the rice is harvested we will have to check back-in with Agrize to see final their results with this test plot. Anyway let’s get back to just admiring this
drone and this technology in action. Just as the application of this test plot
concludes the host-farmer has invited us to fly the drone alongside his spray tractor
in another nearby rice field. Let’s head over, closer to his barn and
talk to him to find out what application rate he can achieve with his equipment. So as this Brazilian rice farmer mentions,
depending on a few variables he can, on average, cover about the same as Agrize’s autonomous
agriculture drone. Can we call the drone the future of farming
in Brazil? It has its place, absolutely. But this equipment and service will not flood
the market and immediately replace tractors–that’s for sure. A longer flight time and larger payload would
be necessary for such a dramatic transition. Farmers are also traditionalists so convincing
a farmer to adopt new technology can be challenging. Right now Agrize is doing excellent work and
data collection that will help with this hurdle. A benefit is that, here in this region of
Brazil, the average rice farm is about 75 acres (30 hectares) so a drone this size could
certainly cover that area over the course of a few days– definitely in tandem with a farmer’s existing
tractor/spray boom operation. The drone is also a great resource here because
aerial spray applications by crop-dusters has been completely restricted due to safety. What I can say with absolute certainty is
that, from a technological standpoint, it’s an exciting time to be in agriculture. The future of agriculture certainly will incorporate
autonomous drones, tractors and robots. Right now we are just getting a taste of what’s
to come. Perhaps in the near future even an android
will be producing and hosting YouTube farming videos for you to enjoy. Thank you for watching. Hasta La Vista, baby! Let me know down below what you think about
this particular autonomous agriculture drone and the future of farming. We certainly have come a long way over the
last decade. It would be better if I filmed from the other side of that toe-ditch. You don’t think I can do it?