Introducing drone technology to banana plantations
It is good news for banana producing countries in Africa; especially those in west and central Africa.
Agriculture technology company XAG – the manufacturer of the XAG agricultural drone – has been in Vietnam testing out the effectiveness of their XAG P100 crop spraying drone on banana and durian plantations.
Below is what they found out.
To cut costs and reap higher benefits, Vietnam’s farmers are applying the XAG P100 Agricultural Drone to the cultivation of high-value crops, such as banana and durian.
With the advantage of fully autonomous and precise operation, XAG drones and related technology such as the autonomous ground vehicle, are becoming a popular technology on the farms. They can help fruit growers address labour shortage and make for the reduction on agricultural input.
As a leading agri-tech company, XAG sees the potential of unmanned drones in Vietnam’s fruit industry amid a shrinking agricultural workforce.
Tropical fruit exports play an important part in Vietnam’s economy, with durians and bananas being representative. In the fourth quarter of 2022, durian exports surged to $421 million, up 137 percent from the same period last year.
Banana exports also experienced strong growth of 34.5 percent, reaching $311 million last year.
Bananas and durians are fruits usually that usually thrive in hot and humid climate, which are unfortunately prone to pests and diseases. Multiple spraying and fertiliser application are required throughout the growth cycle, and the investment can be heavy in labour and fertilizer. Despite the relatively good profit margin of fruit crops, farmers in Vietnam are faced with increasing pressures.
Keeping costs down amid labour shortages
In Vietnam, most farmers rely on manual labour to manage their banana plantations. Once the farm size reaches 1 hectare or more, they must hire workers to assist in watering, fertilising, and pest control. A considerable amount of foliar fertilizer is needed to boost growth. And pesticide spraying is also a necessity to prevent pests and diseases, including aphids, mites, powdery mildew, and black rot.
Farm Krong Pack from Dak Lak Province was experiencing crippling labour shortages; but this year they have found a solution by introducing the XAG P100 Agricultural Drone.
After the drone pilot set parameters and planned flight route on App, the XAG P100 followed the preset path autonomously to spray. It sprayed 20-30 hectares of banana field within a day, which was equivalent to the efficiency of 20 workers toiling simultaneously.
In the past, this banana farm was sprayed twice a month with hand operated sprayers, but manual labour was inefficient and often unsatisfying. During the rainy season, when the frequency of spraying increased, banana growers often struggled to hire enough workers.
Now the farm has found solace in the XAG P100 drone, which can adjust droplet size to different micron level, together with the RTK centimetre-level navigation system to achieve precision spraying. The application of drone spraying helped reduce 80 percent water, 70 percent pesticide, and 60 percent fertilizer.
Additionally, since no one needs to carry a box of pesticides on their back and spray in the fields, the health of the workers was protected.
Maintaining good agricultural practices
Besides bananas, Vietnam’s durians known as “the king of fruit” are popular around the world. To meet the high-quality standards for export, its cultivation needs to follow good agricultural practices, in accordance with strict limitations on the timing of pesticide application and the amount used. A large number of workers were hired to maintain a uniform farming process.
For farmers who grow export fruits, which require strict cultivation standards, XAG P100 Agricultural Drone saves much trouble. In a 4-hectare durian farm in Binh Phuoc, Vietnam, the P100 drone has been adopted to save costs by 60 percent.
“Before, it took workers 8 hours to spray out the farm, but now a P100 takes only 2 hours,” said Thanh, the owner of the durian farm. “I used to hire 10 people to help me conduct farm work, but now two are enough.”
Apart from efficiency, Thanh is also satisfied with the smart control of XAG P100. The XAG One App can provide flight route planning and record operational data throughout the whole process. The drone flew stably at 1 to 3 m/s on top the durian trees to penetrate the crops. Its centimetre-level of precision can avoid repetitive or missed spraying that would cause yield loss.
It is expected that the autonomous drone can help farmers meet high requirements in the international market. According to the prediction of Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, the country’s fresh fruit export value will reach $4billion in 2023, a year-on-year surge of 20 percent, with half of it contributed by dragon fruit, banana, and durian.
Eying on these promising prospects, XAG will speed up its pace of diffusing drone technology, that is to reduce cost pressure and facilitate growth in Vietnam’s fruit industry.