Hunan in central China has taken the lead in promoting agricultural drones, with now over 10,000 such gadgets flying in the skies over the province’s farmland, Chinese media reported today.
At the ongoing 37th China Plant Protection Fair, held in Changsha, capital of Hunan, a number of leading domestic agricultural drone suppliers such as DJI (大疆科技) and XAG (极飞科技) are showcasing their technologies.
Traditionally, China’s farmland is tilled manually by peasants, but the rise of technologies like UAV has steadily changed the face of the centuries-old industry.
Instead of spraying fertilizer and pesticide from tanks carried on their backs, exposing them to health hazards, farmers in Hunan have learned to fly drones to survey crops and sprinkle chemicals.
“My friend bought one drone, which saves time, energy and pesticide,” said Zhang Jun, a local farmer who was quoted as saying in Chinese media reports. “I envy him and decide to get one myself from the fair.”
The one he’s been looking at has five cameras. It not just rains fertilizer and pesticide on the crops, but also monitors their growth, so as to conduct targeted spray.
This practice cuts pesticide and fertilizer use, slashing costs by up to 10%, Zhang said.
China now boasts more than 200,000 agricultural drones, which together have offered their services to 2.13 billion mu, or 142 million hectares, of land.
According to Wang Biao, an official with the province’s plant protection authorities, Hunan is one of the heaviest users of agricultural drones within China, owning more than 10,000 units.
Its drone fleet is growing by 1,000 to 2,000 units a year, he explained.
By the end of 2022, China had over 200,000 agricultural drones in service, with 46,000 sold in 2022, down 27,000 compared to 2021 amid Covid disruptions and falling grain prices, says a study by www.chyxx.com, a market intelligence provider.