East Africa: Now, Drones Used to Gather Crop Data

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Source: All Africa; Article: Clifford Gikunda

Scientists from various research institutions in the region are carrying out a pilot project for gathering crop data using drones.

The researchers from the University of Nairobi and the International Potato Centre (CIP) in partnership with the University of Missouri, regional civil aviation authorities, regional agricultural research institutes and regional statistics bodies, have started a pilot project in Tanzania, where a drone was able to pinpoint 14 different varieties of sweet potatoes in Ukiriguru Research Institute in Mwanza.

“Crop statistics are important for planning, policy making and timely interventions to address food security,” said Elijah Cheruiyot, a research associate in remote sensing at the International Potato Centre in Kenya.

Drone-based remote sensing technology is a game changer in the gathering of agricultural statistics data. It is relatively cheaper; boasts high quality sensors and allows collection of accurate statistics on a large scale with minimal effects from clouds or rain, which in some cases blurs images taken by satellites.

“The drone maps everything on the ground, after which the data is processed by specialised software and scientists can then zero in on their area of interest,” said Mr Cheruiyot.

Original article