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Agricultural drones offer high-tech relief for struggling farms

The next generation farmhand in Japan’s aging rural heartland may be a drone.

For several months, developers and farmers in northeast Japan have been testing a new drone that can hover above paddy fields and perform backbreaking tasks in a fraction of the time it takes for elderly farmers.

Developers of the new agricultural drone say it offers high-tech relief for rural communities facing a shortage of labor as young people leave for the cities.

“As we face a shortage of next-generation farmers, it’s our mission to come up with new ideas to raise productivity and farmers’ income through the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as drones,” said Sakakibara, who is also the head of JA Miyagi Tome, the local agricultural cooperative.

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The drone can apply pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes – a job that takes more than an hour by hand and requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks.

Nileworks is negotiating with authorities to allow operators to fly its drone without a license. It can be controlled with an iPad and runs on mapping software that is simple to operate.

The drone can quickly analyze a rice stalk and determine how much pesticide or fertilizer it needs, making it easier for farmers to judge their input needs and estimate the crop size.

Read full, original article: Drones Offer High-Tech Help to Japan’s Aging Farmers

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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