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June 11, 2019

South Africa's First Licensed Crop-Spraying Drone Takes Flight

After a lengthy process, a crop-spraying drone took its first legal flight in South Africa in May 2019.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted a licence to Durban-based ROC holder DC Geomatics, who operates the drone. The company proved drones equipped with crop spraying operation specifications are safe to use, passing CAA regulations.

Drones can get much closer to crops than planes - to approximately 1.5 to 3 metres above the plants. This allows for more precise application, and is close enough to spray almost 100% of field areas of this challenging terrain.

The drones can be automated to fly a fixed route, at a fixed height above the crop. This is thanks to sensors and GPS mapping on the drones that are smart enough to adjust their height according to the terrain. This allows for farmers to remove human error and maximize the surface area of fields.

...drones also more fuel efficient, using up to 60% less fuel (used in generators to charge the batteries), than in manned aircraft.

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