Delta Drone dives into Zambian agriculture with Rocketfarm
Following the merger of drone-based mining and agriculture solutions provider Delta Drone South Africa drone parachute manufacturer ParaZero into Delta Drone International, the company’s drive to go even more widely international has now kicked off in earnest.
And in Africa, their first port of call is Zambia, where the company’s agriculture Drones-as-a-Service subsidiary Rocketfarm will be launching operations, in conjunction with agriculture technology company, Syngenta.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and with offices in South Africa, USA, China and other parts of the world, the Syngenta Group provides agricultural science and technology to farmers, in particular seeds and crop protection products. The company is an offshoot of a merger of the agrichemical businesses Novartis and AstraZeneca in the year 200, which was then acquired by China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) in 2015.
Last year, the Syngenta Group was formed, bringing together Syngenta, Adama, and the agricultural business of Sinochem under a single entity.
Having worked extensively with Rocketfarm in South Africa, the two are set to rock the Zambian agriculture landscape with agriculture drone solutions to a sector of the economy that contributes about 20 percent of the gross domestic product. According to a statement from Delta Drone International, by launching into Zambia, Rocketfarm will expand its reach and use its advanced data capabilities to virtually visualise and analyse crops, while also allowing remote data capture and sharing of Syngenta’s field trials in the region – an essential part of the company’s research and development process.
The project will be delivered in the first quarter of 2021 and will play a key support role to the Syngenta research and development team to assist farmers with the latest advances in crop protection and seed innovation.
“Building on our established partnership with Syngenta by expanding into Zambia demonstrates how versatile our drone-as-a-service model is and how different applications can be utilised to solve a diverse range of challenges businesses may face,” said Delta Drone International CEO, Christopher Clark.
“While Zambia lies within the tropics, its climate is also modified by the generally higher altitudes and weather systems affecting the country – generally allowing year-round, rather seasonal, crop rotation. This produces unique challenges for crop research and testing teams. Therefore, our multi-spectral imaging capability and capacity to layer that data with additional sources such as weather station data and satellite imagery in real time is of real value to Syngenta’s research teams in this market. Our expertise in utilising remote capture and coordination of all these datasets in real time will not only allow Syngenta to more efficiently analyse data, but also reduce the interaction of people on the ground in viewing activities at key field trial milestones – thereby ensuring work practices meet current safe-distancing protocols.
“We are hopeful this project will be the first of many in this key African market which is looking to increasingly use the latest agri-tech to further optimise crop yields for the key sector of its economy. As drones become more prominent in agricultural operations, businesses can benefit from outsourcing their data requirements. Our innovative model of providing both drone hardware and drone software ensures our agriculture customers have the latest in drone technology along with the most advanced software specific for their industry – enabling them to narrow their focus on the delivery of their core business operations.”
The two will be entering a drone market that has for now been dominated by Sunagri, an agricultural drone services start-up supported by drone manufacturer XAG; iDrone Services, as well as Zambia Flying Labs, which operation from the University of Zambia in Lusaka. Besides the usual precision agriculture operations of crop dusting, mapping and crop monitoring, drone companies in Zambia have been trying to rid agriculture crops of the fall armyworm pest, which has been a bane to green fields for most of last year.
Agriculture produce in Zambia is mainly composed of crops such as maize, sorghum, millet, and cassava, whilst exports are driven by sugar, soybeans, coffee, groundnuts, rice, and cotton as well as horticultural produce.