Unitrans Africa adds to its drone fleet
Multinational company UNITRANS are stepping up their precision agriculture game in Africa by purchasing a fleet of the biggest sprayer drones that DJI has to offer.
The new fleet of seven DJI Agras T30 sprayer drones will form part of Unitans’ precision agriculture repertoire, which includes soil sampling, VRA fertiliser application, field levelling and yield mapping.
The company already had drones in its inventory for surveying and other agricultural applications designed to reduce costs while increasing yields.
According to the manufacturer, DJI the T30 Agras has a 30-litre spraying tank and a transformative body designed to enable more effective spraying, especially for fruit trees. DJI adds that their drone T30 helps reduce fertilizer use and increase yield with effective, data-driven best practices. Its unique branch-targeting technology and adjustable arms allow the Agras T30 to penetrate thick canopies with oblique spraying, ensuring an even application of liquid pesticides and doubling the number of droplets.
The revolutionary, environmentally-friendly drones are already in operation in Malawi and Mozambique, with Unitrans saying the results have so far exceeded expectations in the areas of spraying precision and the optimal utilisation of chemicals, thereby reducing costs and ensuring each crop’s specific needs are met.
Unitrans have been trying out the new drones in Dwangwa in central Malawi, as well as the Mozambican areas of Xinavane, Maragra and Lamego.
“Drones have so many advantages over planes, including being environmentally friendly,” says Unitrans CEO, Rob Hayworth. “Drones use batteries instead of fuel and can spray at night, whereas a plane cannot, thereby allowing for 24/7 spraying operations.
“Drones also allow for greater penetration through the crop canopy as well as variable rates of application within the same field, which is a major advance in aerial spraying worldwide and a first for Africa.
“This means less water use and ensures that more chemicals go to where they are needed, instead of every part of a field receiving the same amount,”
Hayworth added that his company, which has been closely involved in the agriculture sector since 1962 and has operations in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia, Tanzania and Madagascar, plans to use its seven drones in a unique way.
“We have a team of engineers, actuaries and agronomists, led by Logan Woolfson, who have designed the best approach for precision agriculture specialising in drone crop-spraying,” said Hayworth. “With the release of the new and bigger T30, converting all agricultural spraying and fertilising to drones is a ‘no-brainer’ as we can now spray up to 40-50 hectares a day per pilot. Each pilot can fly two drones at a time.”
Unitrans Africa’s approach is to intelligently understand crop fields by using surveying drones to map all potential spray routes, thereby ensuring optimal applications based on crop health.
“We are also confident we can improve efficiency, safety and provide more data-based insights into your crop’s performance,” said Hayworth. “By using two or even three drones at a time, Unitrans Africa’s strategy is to ensure that more fields can be reached per day. This, in turn, will lead to economic empowerment in terms of locals being upskilled to become drone pilots. This could never happen with planes.
“Drone crop-spraying is more cost-efficient, less harmful to humans, environmentally friendly, and far less indiscriminate when it comes to spraying. In addition, drone data can help farmers by, for example, identifying crops that are under stress. It’s a game-changer for our operations and a win-win for Unitrans Africa and farmers.”