South African farmers are joining the global trend of using robots, called field robots. Agri SA’s head of rural safety, Kobus Visser, stated that this will “address the multitude of challenges brought on by daily farm life.”
A recent report by GlobalData, named ‘Robotics in Agriculture’, showed that global field robot sales had hit US$1,1 billion (about R19 billion) in 2020 and were projected to reach US$11 billion (R189 billion) by 2030. The report indicated that the commercial drone market, which formed part of this industry, would overtake military drones and become the largest segment of the drone market by revenue over the next few years, with agricultural drones being a key driver.
However, Christian Giesel, Syngenta South Africa’s head of marketing, said drone technology had not yet developed to a level where it could be used accurately and reliably for crop spraying. “Current legislation doesn’t accommodate the application [of chemicals by drones],” he said, adding that Syngenta agreed with CropLife South Africa’s official stance that drones could not yet be used to apply agrochemicals, as the water volumes used by drones were significantly lower than what was required by the formulations.