One of China’s largest agricultural drone companies is helping to overhaul the rice-farming industry.
XAG recently launched a rice-seeding demonstration of seeding via drone at Happy Farms, an agricultural park in Guangdong province.
The demo showed how an agricultural drone would fare against human labor. Two workers were tasked with spreading 11 pounds of rice seeds across a waterlogged paddy field – a job that took 25 minutes to cover 1,200 square meters. Using a special granule spreading system, the XAG drone distributed seed across 50,000 square meters in one hour – a task that would have taken 50-60 workers to complete in the same time span.
According to a company release, China faces a huge labor shortage in rural farming over the next decade as younger people flock to large cities.
Since April 2019, XAG’s drone direct seeding solutions have been applied to more than 650 million square meters of rice fields across China’s 11 provinces. In addition to spreading seeds, an XAG agricultural drone can also spray pesticides to ward off insect damage.
A company spokesperson notes:
“When COVID-19 loomed over the spring planting season, XAG mobilized farmers to adopt agricultural drones as a prompt response to rural workforce shortages. Despite the economic disruption, China’s agriculture has witnessed a robust performance with 3.5 percent year-on-year increase in the added value of the planting industry, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. To feed 1.4 billion people with enough staple food, China this year plans to cultivate 4.6 million hectares of early rice, [an increase of] 0.2 million hectares from last year.”
Last year, XAG partnered with Airbus to launch aerial delivery trials. During the trial initiative, drones will carry food deliveries from a noodle shop to select customers in Guangzhou via the Drone Cargo WeChat app. The maiden voyage saw one of XAG’s drones, the P30, deliver a meal on a pre-determined, one-mile route to a rooftop landing pad in under 5 minutes.