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Maize breeders reaping benefits of using drones

Using drone technology could cut labour and costs spent in collecting data for maize breeding by at least ten per cent, preliminary findings of a project shows.
 
With increased demand for better seeds to adapt to changing climate, breeders have turned to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) also known as drones for precise gathering of data from the field to enable more efficient maize breeding in most of Southern Africa.

“The use of drones to collect data may be an efficient way if you look at large acreages.”

Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvements

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Southern Africa has adopted UAVs to collect data as a critical part of successful breeding programme.
 
Mainassara Abdou Zaman-Allah, maize physiologist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Southern Africa regional office in Zimbabwe, says using UAVs has facilitated instant data gathering, adding that with the UAVs it is possible to collect data from 1,000 plots in ten minutes or less while it may take eight hours to do so manually.

“In the preliminary analysis that we made, we realised that with the UAV technology, we would spend 10 per cent or less on labour and cost respectively,” said Zaman-Allah.