In the Andes region of Ecuador, XAG Agricultural Drones were recently introduced to a series of on-farm spray trials for high-altitude specialty crops. The demonstrations on potato fields have presented the high potential of fully autonomous drones in reducing labor cost and agricultural pesticide exposure.
With diverse climate and rural landscapes, more than half of Ecuador is located in the Andes at sea level over 3000 meters, growing the most common crops such as corn, wheat, barley, and potatoes. At this altitude, major farming steps - from crop spraying to fertilizing - can become difficult.
Both smallholders and large farms are seeking high-precision drones as alternatives to manual labor and ground machinery. As more young people have been trained as XAG drone pilots, more abandoned farmlands are being restored to fertile soils that cultivate the exotic Ecuadorian fruits and vegetables.
Since this July, XAG's local partner MegaDrone has been conducting drone spraying demonstrations for Andean potato farmers in the region of Carchi. The growing potato crops were evenly sprayed with minimal chemical by XAG Agricultural Drone.
Traditionally, manual spraying and ground-based machinery are two main solutions to protect food crops from pests and diseases. Though large tractors can enhance the productivity of potato farms, their increasing weight and size make them hardly adapt the mountainous terrain while the huge tires would compact the fragile mountain soil.