L'inspection par drones ouvre la voie à l'agriculture de précision en Afrique
D’une superficie de plus de 30 millions de kilomètres carrés, l'Afrique représente environ 20 % des terres du globe et offre des milieux naturels aussi divers que variés (déserts, savane et forêts tropicales humides). L'agriculture sur le deuxième continent le plus vaste et le plus chaud du monde est donc confrontée à des défis particuliers : les fermes s'étendent souvent sur des milliers d'hectares et les agriculteurs ont régulièrement des problèmes de parasites et de champignons. En parallèle, ces grands exportateurs doivent se conformer à une réglementation sur les pesticides de plus en plus stricte. Pour rester compétitifs sur le marché mondial, ils ont donc besoin de solutions spécialisées qui augmentent la productivité tout en réduisant les coûts.
To support agriculture clients in this strategic region, Bureau Veritas has developed precision farming solutions based on crop inspection by drone. Services are provided under a framework partnership agreement with Delta Drone. The aim is to develop precision farming inspection services by consolidating Bureau Veritas ground data – for example analyses of soil, leaves and roots – with aerial data acquired by Delta Drone. These services can add value to all types of plantation, from rubber, palm oil, sugar cane and banana tree to cocoa. Several pilot programs in Ivory Coast proved successful, and the partnership is now taking the solution to 12 other French-speaking nations.
Goodbye to a scattergun approach: hello to precision farming
Precision farming aims to minimize risk and maximize returns for growers by monitoring crop and farm development with a view to improving management. The use of drones in this model means that crops and farms can be monitored, sometimes over years, for such information as number of trees, strength and homogeneity of plant development, areas of vegetation stress, chlorophyll content, general health conditions, fertilization, and irrigation.
Problem areas identified from the sky can then be analyzed using highly efficient ground-based sample testing. As a result, farmers can adapt operations such as fertilizer planning and the use of phytosanitary products to make them more targeted, sustainable and productive.
Fast mapping for better planning
Another, more immediately accessible use of this technique that brings together data collected from the sky and on the ground is in cartography. Thorough information-gathering can help farmers design future plantations to maximize potential yields, define land lots, and identify optimal drainage systems. This kind of data has long been an important tool for farmers, but while in the past it might have taken up to three weeks to monitor a farm of 50 hectares, Bureau Veritas-Delta Drone teams can cover the same surface in just 15 minutes. At such rates, monitoring can be repeated every six to eight weeks to enable growers to compare data.
Building on the success of the Ivory Coast pilot project, Bureau Veritas aims to become a leading player in the region’s agriculture sector within the next two years. It hopes to use learnings from drone inspection work in agri-food, notably the handling of huge amounts of data, to develop offers for its other markets such as telecommunications, mining and construction. To this end, the company is already working with Delta Drone on a pilot project with a leading international telecommunications company to use drone technology in the verification and monitoring of telephone pylons.