Drones, a Farmer’s New Best Friend?
TechTalk takes a look at a tech startup, Aerobotics, that is using drones to help farmers in South Africa. This promising technology can help increase crop yields by gathering valuable data on disease, pests, droughts, fertilization and more.
Dave Plaskow: Hello, and welcome to EisnerAmper’s technology podcast series. With more than five hundred technology clients, we’re always interested in the latest industry trends and developments, as well as any related business and accounting opportunities and challenges. Today’s topic is using drones to increase crop yields. I’m your host, Dave Plaskow, and with us today is Dave Katz, senior manager in EisnerAmper’s technology and life sciences practice. We like to call this TechTalk. Dave, welcome, and thanks for being here.
Dave Katz: Thanks for having me Dave.
DP: So, Dave, I think our listeners know by now that we’re a pretty drone friendly podcast. What have we got today?
DK: I’d say we are… So, we’re looking at a drone start up, Aerobotics, which is using its drones to help farmers in South Africa.
DP:Okay, tell us a little bit about the company.
DK:The company was founded by James Patterson who grew up on a farm in South Africa. He got a Masters in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, and then founded the company from his garage with his partner, Benji Meltzer, and the company now has nearly two hundred clients in eleven countries, including here in the US.
DP:Nice. So, what do the drones do to help the farmers?
DK: The computers use the images taken by drones to predict information on crop health. They can pinpoint sections in the field that are underperforming due to disease, pests, drought, and lack of fertilization.
DP:And how much of an impact can these drones make?
DK:Aerobotics says that they can increase harvest by up to ten percent.
DP:Okay. Now Africa is a good proving ground for this particular type of technology, is it not?
DK:I would agree. Approximately sixty percent of the population live in rural areas that are heavily dependent on farming. The continent imports thirty-five billion dollars in food imports annually and additionally the African Development Bank is investing twenty-four billion dollars over the next decade in farming improvement initiatives.
DP:Okay. Now Aerobotics is certainly making people take notice, aren’t they?
DK:Yup. Leaders from the company recently participated in Google’s launch pad accelerator program.
DP:Excellent. What else have you been hearing about the drones sector lately?
DK:I mean they’re still in the news. Ohio wants to use drones to monitor highway traffic; Huntington Beach, California just greenlighted a project to use drones for public safety; the US Navy just ordered a project where drones will watch over marines in Afghanistan; and then you have MIT making micro drones, which will be the size of a honey bee, so continuing to evolve and obviously here to stay.
DP:Onward and upward with technology. Well, Dave, thanks for your expertise and this great insight.
DK: Thanks, Dave.
DP: And thank you for listening to TechTalk as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Visit EisnerAmper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics and join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast where we get down to business.
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