ABZ drones may ease farm labor
As U.K. farmers and growers seek new technologies to alleviate workforce shortfall, Hungary-based drones for agriculture pioneer ABZ Innovation, following success in countries across Europe, is introducing the U.K. to a technology that may alleviate Britain’s farm labor shortage. Already present in five countries, the system offers a new use for drones far removed from hobbyists or their use in conflict zones.
Developed and tested with the University of Gyor, this drone solution offers a lower cost, highly-efficient spraying of fields and orchards, allowing farmers and growers a reduced workload and an easier means of spraying hard-to-access areas.
Cost savings are key to the ABZ system, which, in testing, shows that targeted, precise management through drones uses 90% less water than conventional spraying and up to 50% fewer chemicals.
In the case of the U.K., ABZ drones may help growers and farmers hit hard by the post-Brexit ag labor shortages. According to the U.K.’s National Farmers’ Union, $70 million worth of fresh produce rotted in the fields in 2022 due to a lack of workers.
ABZ Chief Executive Karoly Ludvigh says: “With the problems with the lack of workforce in crops and orchards in the U.K., drones can provide a very cost-effective alternative. They also have the benefit of helping growers use significantly less water and chemicals.”
With the cost of rising input materials, Ludvigh says the pinpoint accuracy of spraying with ABZ drones – within five feet – can be a valuable asset in keeping input and water costs down.
In fact, in light of the Ukraine war, food shortages, and the rapidly changing weather, Ludvigh believes precision farming is no longer a choice, but the only way to uphold agricultural production.
He adds: “Proper soil and crop management has become paramount to provide our plants with the kind of soil they require to withstand weather conditions as well as possible.”
At the same time, Ludvigh adds that drone technology has been accelerating at an incredible rate with as many changes in the 12 months of 2022 as in the previous six years put together. “The pace of these changes has been amazingly fast and I think it will get even faster,” he notes.
ABZ says it is poised to enter a large and relatively untapped market, thanks to new rules which allow drones to spray crops. They add that this could transform British farming and massively boost its productivity at a time of high energy costs, and a tight labor shortage.