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Drones boost efficiency on Taiwan's sugarcane farms

Pesticide drops carried out by drone 4 times more efficient than by manual labor

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The drone used to distribute the pesticides is pictured on Saturday. (CNA photo)

The drone used to distribute the pesticides is pictured on Saturday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Industry, government, and academia have collaborated on a research project using drones to drop pesticides on sugarcane fields that have been shown to quadruple efficiency compared to human labor.

Ministry of Agriculture researcher Lin Li (林立) is based in Hualien, and told CNA on Saturday (Jan. 27) that the drone technology is intended to replace time-consuming labor, involving attaching objects to the sugar canes by hand. The objects contain beneficial insect larvae that hatch to control parasitic insect populations.

Lin said that covering a one-hectare field using this method would take one to two hours. Lin said the drone technology developed by the research team can do the same job in five to 10 minutes.

The two-year research project was a collaboration between the ministry, Taiwan Sugar Corporation, and the Chinese Culture University, and is now entering the commercialization phase. Members of the research team said they are in contact with manufacturers, who will produce the pesticide delivery device.

There are an estimated 10,000 hectares of sugarcane fields in Taiwan. Taiwan Sugar Corporation said sugarcane production takes 18 months, and further studies into the effectiveness of the drone delivery system will be carried out over the next two years.