- Chinese farmers have swopped heavy backpacks of pesticide for remote controls
- 1.2 million Chinese farmers use drones
Peng Bin was on a road trip in Xinjiang in 2012 when he noticed that elderly farmers were struggling under the weight of pesticide tanks strapped to their backs. This gave him the idea for agricultural drones.
Peng Bin started focusing on what drones could do for farmers rather than their commercial use. He is now founder and CEO of XAG, one of China’s biggest producers of agricultural drones.
XAG estimates its sales account for more than half of the agricultural drones sold in China, serving more than 1.2 million farmers. They currently have about 27 000 drones in operation, the majority of which have been sold to pesticide-spraying companies.
China has an ageing farmer population, as most young people prefer to work in big cities. As a result, many of the remaining farmers are elderly labourers farming alone. The drones allow farmers to spray pesticides on their crops without physical labour. Drones have cut farmers’ exposure to harmful chemicals as they had been spraying the crops without adequate protective gear.
The drones also help with the labour shortage on farms, as they have the potential to do the same spraying job as a human 30 times faster. The drone is also not hampered by challenging terrain.
One of China’s “Made in 2025” goals is to produce 90% of its own farming equipment by 2020 as well as to boost agricultural productivity. Agricultural drones are helping China reach this goal.
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