The € 35,000 drone that can monitor, spray and weed 1,000 ac per day
A new crop management drone can tackle labor shortages in agriculture, its manufacturers say.
enaDrone – slated for launch in Ireland early next year – uses an advanced camera and computer vision to monitor and treat the plantations.
Described as an âoctocopter droneâ by the Canadian firm ZenaTech, it has eight propellers.
The two-meter-wide aircraft has a maximum flight time of one hour. A full charge takes an hour.
The drone can monitor plant health and potential problems using a multispectral sensor; it is hoped that this will enable farmers to reduce the use of pesticides.
The drone is also capable of spraying and removing diseased crops from the field.
At maximum speed, it can handle 100 acres per hour, with a potential of 1,000 acres in a day, weather permitting.
The technology is patent pending in the United States.
Farmers interested in their farm technology will need to purchase â¬ 35,000 worth of hardware and software, which includes the drone, charger, base station, initial setup and training, as directed by the Irish Aviation Authority . .
ZenaDrone’s continued support will cost an additional â¬ 6,000 per year.
Founded in 2018, ZenaTech’s initial products were aimed at companies related to marijuana and hemp.
Founder Dr Shaun Passley aims to create up to 30 new jobs in Ireland next year.
âInitially, most of our staff will be based in south Dublin, which will allow us to cover the east of the country,â he says.
“We plan to have staff based in Cork, Galway and Belfast to allow national coverage.”
He hopes to have up to 30 drones operational here in 2022, with up to 15 employees helping Irish farmers by March.
ZenaDrone decided to launch in Ireland because of the importance of the agricultural sector compared to the size of the island.
They believe the drone will help the agricultural sector fill its labor shortage. Cereal production in Ireland fell by 16% between 2019 and 2020 according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The technology will initially be tested on hemp farms before being rolled out in the wider tillage sector.
One of those early adopters is Wicklow farmer Ed Hanbidge, who cultivates 40 acres of hemp at the foot of Keadeen Mountain.
âIf he does what he says on the tin, it will be revolutionary technology,â he says. âWith a high price, a cost-benefit analysis will have to be done by the farmers who consider it.
âThe drone is supposed to be able to take male hemp plants from the field.
âThis is important for the cannabinoid content of our final product. “