Business Business

26/07/2020 - 12:19

Thua Thien Hue: Agriculture “takes off” with the drone

Recently in Thua Thien Hue province, farmers confidently hired drones to spray plant protection products (henceforth PPPs) on their farms.

An staff of AgriDrone Vietnam showcases the drone control at the event of “Hue flies high with Vietnam's agriculture”

“Industry 4.0” for agriculture

In the world, the application of drones (also called unmanned aerial vehicles) for agriculture is not unfamiliar. In Vietnam, this vehicle has been recently used in many southern provinces (such as Tien Giang, An Giang, Dong Thap...) and achieved much efficiency and convenience.

The agriculture sector of Vietnam in general and Thua Thien Hue in particular are reportedly facing two major challenges, including climate change and low agricultural efficiency. Applying science and technology is an inevitable trend to reduce labor costs and increase crop yields to achieve high economic efficiency.

In the end of June, Huong Thuy Agricultural Service Center cooperated with AgriDrone Vietnam Company to spray insecticides on 1.5 hectares of rice of Phu Bai Agricultural Cooperative (Phu Bai Ward) by using the drone. This was the first locality to use the drone to spray PPPs for rice farming. It was an opportunity for cooperative’s staff and farmers to experience and evaluate technical aspects and economic efficiency when applying this vehicle to the agricultural production.

A drone of AgriDrone Vietnam demonstrates the PPPs spraying on the rice field of Huong Thuy township

“For a long time, I had to spray PPPs for my family’s 2,000sqm field by myself. Despite wearing protective gloves and masks, I sometimes felt dizzy, headache and sick after spraying under hot weather. Local farmers are very excited because Huong Thuy now has a flying vehicle to replace us in spraying PPPs,” cheered Mr. Nguyen Thanh, a farmer from Huong Thuy.

“The drone is a modern vehicle. It sprays more evenly and beautiful than we do by hands, and eventually reduces labor and the amount of PPPs. It is more convenient for farmers but importantly ensures human health and minimizes environmental pollution,” said Mr. Thanh.

In Thuy Tan commune, Thuy Tan Agriculture Cooperative hired a drone to spray insecticide on an area of 10 hectares since the 2019-2020 winter-spring crop. Mr. Nguyen Quang Hong - Chairman and CEO of the Cooperative calculated that they would save VND 1.2-1.5 million per hectare (for PPPs and labor costs) after piloting the drone use. This was not a small amount for farmers. In addition, using the drone to spray insecticides also limited the amount of trampled rice when they do it manually, contributing to the reduction of cultivation losses.

Time saving is another convenience that farmers prefer to use the drone. If a hectare of rice sprayed manually requires 2-3 labors in 3 days, it takes less than 30 minutes with this 4.0 technology. “Now, the farmers’ tasks are just recording the spraying timetable and monitoring the amount of PPPs to know how much money they will save in this crops for input expenses,” said the Director of Thuy Tan Agricultural Cooperative.

“Flying high” with Vietnam’s agriculture sector

Recently on July 3rd, AgriDrone Vietnam cooperated with the Faculty of Land Resources and Agricultural Environment (henceforth FLRAE) - Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry to organize the event of “Hue flies high with Vietnam’s agriculture”, which attracted more than 200 students.

At the event, AgriDrone Vietnam introduced a series of modern drones in the world, demonstrated the most advanced spraying technology in plant protection, and introduced a successful startup model, new career opportunities for students and applications of artificial intelligence in the management and development of agriculture and natural resources. It hopes that the most modern technology solutions will be applied to the agriculture sector in the province.

As a pioneer in bringing the drone to Hue, AgriDrone Vietnam’s CEO Nguyen Van Thien Vu wished to return to support his hometown in agricultural development and the cooperation with the Universityof Agriculture and Forestry was his first step.

“I want to bring technology to teachers and students for their having an experience of how modern technology develops. Regarding agriculture, Hue has great potential. Many people think that Hue’s agricultural area is fragmented and small but in fact, we have very beautiful rice fields. It is only fragmented due to its ownership by many farmers. In the near future, the development of drone technology in PPPs spraying in Thua Thien Hue province is very positive,” excited the CEO of AgriDrone Vietnam.

Dr. Tran Thi Phuong – a senior lecturer of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry shared in happiness: “This is the first cooperation of the faculty with the company and also the first time our students have seen the drones with their own eyes. So far, they have been only taught with the images and theory of drones without any direct experience, or even practicing how to control the drone”.

In the near future, the university, together with AgriDrone Vietnam, will organize short-term training courses on the drone use for students in two faculties – the FLRAE and Agronomy Faculty, for land measurement and map drawing, smart urban management, real estate market management as well as experience in PPP spraying for crops.

The company’s technicians will provide equipment and directly instruct the students to practice on the planting area of the university's Research and Development Institute (Huong Van ward, Huong Tra township). In a long-term strategy, the university will coordinate with AgriDrone Vietnam to carry out scientific research, and create science and technology products to transfer to companies and corporations.

Thien Vu said that upon the completion of the drone show in Huong Thuy, many local farmers and others from districts of Phu Vang, Phong Dien and Phu Loc had confidence in the new technology and contacted the company for its survey and deployment. The young man also expressed his “ambition” with bigger “problems”, such as using the drone to evaluate plant health. Therefore, diagnosing diseases will be conducted on a specific area for epidemic zoning and eliminating instead of spraying insecticides on the entire area currently. A further step is to digitize Hue’s map of agriculture.

Story and photos: LIEN MINH