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More and more farmers using drones in France

Thanks to a startup company, farmers are starting to use drones to dose manure and maintain watering levels, whilst scientists are getting help with their research. 

The drone, developed by the start-up Airinov, can be seen at the Inra stand at the Salon d'Agriculture. A video shows a farmer using it- launching the light-weight (barely 800g) futuristic boomerang as if it were a paper plane. 

Using GPS, the drone flies over crops (following a predefined route) and takes readings, of chlorophyll or nitrogen levels for example.

"We made our first drone in a a garage 4 years ago. Farmers were not at all intimidated by the idea and asked for advice about nitrogen input"  for colza and wheat crops, says Romain Faroux, one of the 3 young founders of Airinov (himself a farmer's son). 

Inra developed the mapping sensor, whilst French company, Parrot, created the flying wing. 

According to Airnov, who hope to sell approximately 50 drones in 2014 (to agricultural chambers, cooperatives etc..), 10,000 ha have already been flown over by drones (used for 1,000 farmers). 

Seed manufacturers are also interested.  Drones are being tested around Montpellier that will allow water savings and reduce use of pesticides.

The drone is an ideal way of measuring these types of levels because it ''allows closer monitoring'' than satellites, explains researcher, Sylvain Labbé, and ''reduces use of pesticides'' by spotting from the sky areas prone to weeds. 


Publication date: 3/10/2014


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