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UAV to Boost Agriculture Sector by Eradicating Pests and Plant Disease

Gadja Mada University Airborne Pest and Plant Disease Eradication System
Photo Credit: Gadjah Mada University

Researchers from Indonesia’s Gadja Mada University have developed an innovative airborne pest and plant disease eradication system by utilising on autonomous drones.

According to a recent press release, the pest and plant disease eradication system utilised an edrone, which is a flight controller module for drones.

It is capable of flying autonomously.

The Problem

Farmers in Indonesia are often plagued with problems concerning pests and plant diseases, which led to a decrease in agricultural and plantation products that threatened food security in the country.

Because of the size and extensiveness of the agricultural land in Indonesia, the handling of pests and plant diseases takes time.

As such, the team from the University’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences as well as research teams from the Electronic Study Program, Instrumentation Department of Computer Science and Electronics FMIPA developed the innovation to address this.

The Solution

The system they developed is using a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft (UAV), which is equipped with electronic components such as brushless motors, servo motors, GPS, telemetry, batteries, and IMU6 DOF.

The UAV is equipped with a 13” propeller and has a maximum take-off weight of 4 kg. Additionally, its body and wings are made of hard foam.

Moreover, it is also equipped with a flight controller, which uses a Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) control method.

The flight controller will be used to ensure that the UAV will fly smoothly and be able to carry out its mission autonomously.

More importantly, the UAV can carry pesticides, which will make pest and plant disease eradication much easier. It will merely fly over the land that needed pesticide.

Aside from fulfilling its duties as a pest exterminator, the UAV will also be utilised for functions such as mapping of plant diseases.

A technology system was created for this purpose. It can recognise the diseases and the pests as well as identify the various types.

For this functionality, the UAV, which is equipped with a flight controller, will be connected to a ground segment that is supported by Baloon BTS.

The UAV will then carry out it monitoring and mapping function in the specified area. Results from this activity will then be processed using artificial intelligence (AI).

Three fixed-wing vehicles are used for mapping and can cover 200 hectares worth of land together.

Vast Potential of Using Technology

Monitoring vast farming lands has proven to be quite bothersome particularly if most of the farmers do so by foot. Countries have recognised that technology is fast advancing and has produced machinery that could change what was once a laborious and tedious farming process into an efficient and automated one.

OpenGov Asia has reported on the Philippines looking into drones to boost farming. The Department of Agriculture was evaluating the potential of drones in changing how seeds are planted, how fertilisers and pesticides are applied, and how crops are monitored.

They see drones as a technology that would further mechanise the farm sector and cut the cost of production.

Thailand is not far behind as the Thai government will be applying Japanese agritech to upgrade the country’s community-based tourism and tackle poverty among farmers.

According to its Deputy Prime Minister, Thailand should learn to use more advanced technology in the agriculture sector because the country has become an ageing society and is facing a shortage of young workers in the sector.

Meanwhile, the Government of New Zealand released a report that sets out their vision for how drones can be better integrated into the current transport system in order to develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector.

The economic benefits of drones include doing tasks that are time-intensive, expensive and risky.

These tasks include monitoring crops, inspecting power lines, and helping with emergency operations.

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