People are talking more and more about the advantages of drones. But it is a very new technology and is still only used by a small percentage of farmers. The Chamber of Agriculture in Deux-Sèvres (France) organises farm demonstrations to show farmers in the area how drones and other technologies can be used as farm management tools. Mr Sigogneau, one of the visiting farmers said “These demonstrations help me keep in touch with what’s new and available to help me manage my farm”
The French Minister for agriculture set up the DEPHY network in 2010. This is a network of farms which can act as demonstration farms for efficient use of crop protection products. In November 2015, two of these farms hosted farm demonstrations on the use of drones as farm management tools. The Chambers of Agriculture have developed a service to control nitrogen fertilisation of rapeseed and wheat called “Mes dron’im@ages”. This was presented to the visiting farmers and advisers from the Chamber of Agriculture were present for further discussion and exchanges with the farmers.
One of the flight demonstrations was made by Mr Jean-Philippe Bernard, adviser from the Chamber of Agriculture Charentes Maritimes, in a plot of rapeseed. This illustrated how precise fertilisation can maximise profit and avoid the risk of nitrogen leaching.
The farmers subsequently visited several other plots where they also discussed techniques to weed parcels where cereals and leguminous plants were intercropped, and demonstrating the importance of detecting and counting insect pests which are common in rapeseed before deciding to treat/spray with pesticide. These types of group visits to demonstration farms allow farmers and advisers to share concerns, and exchange on new techniques, technology and crops.
Mr Sigogneau said “It is a great advantage to discuss with my neighbours who have applied some of these new techniques and find out what they think about them. It has helped me decide what will be best for my farm.” Mr Sigogneau is now thinking of investing in drone technology “If it helps me to reduce costs of fertiliser, I would definitely be interested in using drones as a management tool”.
Photo credits: Chambre d'agriculture des Deux-Sèvres