Hi-tech drones come to the aid of Japan’s ageing farmers


The drone can apply pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes

The next generation farmhand in Japan's ageing rural heartland may be a drone.

For several months, developers and farmers in northeast Japan have been testing a new drone that can hover above paddy fields and perform backbreaking tasks in a fraction of the time it takes for elderly farmers.

“This is unprecedented high technology,” said Isamu Sakakibara, a 69-year-old rice farmer in the Tome area, a region that has supplied rice to Tokyo since the 17th century.

The drone can apply pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes — a job that takes more than an hour by hand and requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks.

The Nile-T18 was developed by drone start-up Nileworks Inc and recently tested in collaboration with JA Miyagi Tome and trading  house Sumitomo Corp.

Their aim is to ease the physical burden and improve productivity in rural areas battling decades of falling birth rates and migration to urban areas.

In Tome, farmers are an average 67-68 years old and they may only have another 4-5 years of farming left, said Sakakibara, who is also the head of JA Miyagi Tome, the local agricultural cooperative. “It’s a matter of whether the body breaks down first, or the tractor,” he added.

The drone is smaller and cheaper, costing about 4 million yen.....Read more

 

Source web page: The hindu


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