Agriculture: what a drone of idea!
Does the future of agriculture depend on drones? If their use still remains ultra-confidential – difficult to find more than a few farmers who have already invested -, the World Agriculture and Livestock Suppliers which is being held in Villepinte at the moment is nevertheless an opportunity to make the update on current French initiatives. The price of a drone equipped with sensors adapted to agricultural needs can reach 25,000 euros. So, is it a good idea to equip drones?
Panorama of those who believe in it:
- French start-ups: Cyleone, Airinov, Redbird …
Several young French companies have focused their development on the use of drones in the agricultural sector. This is the case with Airinov, but also with Cycleone in Montpellier and even with Redbird, which employs around twenty people.
Last summer, Airinov counted 2,000 farmer customers across France for 20,000 hectares of crops flown over (10,000 wheat, 10,000 rapeseed). “The market is a few million euros in France on the sole themes of fertilizer advice for rapeseed and wheat”, Florent Mainfroy explained to us, co-founder of Airinov, last summer.
FrenchWeb had also met Guillaume Boguszewski, the founder of Cycleone in March 2014:
[FrenchWeb Tour Montpellier] Guillaume… through frenchweb
- The drone test in the Somme
In this department where the majority of the agricultural surface is exploited for the cultivation of cereals, the Chamber of Agriculture has acquired two drones. It makes them available to farmers in order to demonstrate their usefulness. “For now, we have had the drones tested in around 100 operations across the department, and covered around 4,500 hectares in a few months. The test is billed at 10 euros per hectare and is used to control nitrogen treatment, ”says Aurélien De Ceuninck, head of the plant production department at the Chamber of Agriculture of the Somme. Other applications exist: the measurement of damage to the plantations with a view to compensation, the measurement of the emergence and maturity rates of pea and bean plantations or the audit of the impact of the burial sites of peas. power lines. “We are collaborating with Airinov for the purchase and maintenance of drones and hope to reach 300 to 400 operations by the end of the year,” explains Aurélien De Ceuninck.
- SenseFly eBee drones
In particular used by Airinov, eBee drones are developed by the senseFly electronics group. This subsidiary presented them to the general public at the 2014 Agricultural Show. EBee makes it possible to osculate the fields and establish a qualitative map using infrared capture. Objective: assess the needs of the surfaces and adapt the treatments, the doses of fertilizer for example. Unlike other drone models, eBee is not piloted in real time, it is programmed through a computer upstream.
- The joint project of Airbus, Delta Drone and Arvalis
Airbus Defense and Space, the Grenoble start-up Delta drone and the Arvalis plant institute have been working together since last year to reflect on the use of data captured by drones in the agricultural sector. The objective is to set up a service by the 2015/2016 sowing campaign according to the actual needs of farmers.
Beyond the technical possibility, farmers will also have to be trained in their use and in particular get used to requesting a flight authorization. Indeed, the legislation requires that an official flight authorization has been issued by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and that the pilot holds a theoretical ULM certificate.
On the other hand, the equipment is expensive, a drone equipped with sensors adapted to agricultural needs can reach 25,000 euros, as specified above. Also, the development of their use will certainly go through a pooling of means, and provision of drones by cooperatives, Chambers of Agriculture or other group … and not by individual equipment at the scale of a single operation, the cost of which seems prohibitive.
© photo: FrenchWeb