Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are able to gather large amounts of information cheaply and efficiently by virtue of their aerial perspective.
Those data are a crucial element for Precision Agriculture, using advanced tools and technologies to observe and measure conditions in the field and then respond appropriately to optimize returns and preserve resources.
UAVs could help small farmers to reduce plants diseases, improve water management, analyse fertility trends over time, optimize irrigation and capture data on climate change.
Therefore, UAVs will help farmers to increase their yields and reduce economic and environmental costs.
“Plant Agriculture researchers Liz Lee, Bill Deen, and Mary Ruth Mcdonald are incorporating drone technology into their field research. As a part of the movement called precision agriculture, this new technology allows researchers and growers to optimize pest management strategies. This translates into minimizing the environmental impact of treating plants with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides”
Many Governments has not defined yet a clear regulation for drones use: some of them have decided to ban UAVs use in agriculture, as Kenya did, while others are just waiting that the most important issues about UAVs use, would come out before informing a regulation.
It is worthy to be noted that UAVs applications in development policies are not limited to agriculture. Drones could be useful tools to monitor Human Rights violations, improve access to health services and deliver humanitarian aids. Furthermore, UAVs can be used by first responder to research for lost people or to evaluate the extent of damage after natural disasters.
Here you find a nice guide: Drones and aerial observation: new technologies for properties rights, human rights and Global Development, containing also practical instructions on “how to make maps with drones” (Chapter 4).
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