Using drones to positively identify insect pest damage

Jdwilgrow has been doing work in assisting farmers to properly diagnose, manage and control insect pests, weeds and diseases on their farmers to improve on their yields and sustainability. I am motivated to see how best ICT can be used for development of better results through the use of drones, mobile platforms and early warning forecasts.

The idea under development is to use drones to positively identify insect pest damage and presence by analyzing pictures from the drones. Drone information through the NDVI will assist in highlighting areas which are severely affected and so the management or control measures will only be deployed to the affected areas. We will develop an interactive platform for farmers to be able to input pictures of the insect pests they see in their fields onto the platform, and through machine learning, they will be positively identified and possible management options will be offered on the platform. Early warning forecast of common pests prevalent in each period of the year and the possible integrated pest management tools will be shared to the farmers through the platform.

Semi-looper in soybean

I have managed to raise the money required to buy the drone through my existing consultancy work. I wish to engage ITC professionals in developing necessary software, or at least buy the already tested agricultural software, which will be then tested in our local environment and further developed to give the much need detail for pest management options for farmers. I will start by trying out free agricultural software providers while looking into the possibility of buying licensed ones. Scouting for insect pests will be made easier and in the future I will also deploy drones to do spraying in the affected areas.

The innovation will be of great social impact especially to most farmers in Zimbabwe who are struggling due to lack of knowledge and experience. Improper use of pesticides has resulted in a surge in production costs for most farmers in Zimbabwe. This has also contributed to resurgence of huge insect pest densities due to acquired resistance. This innovation will bring know how to the farmers and make them more cautious and profitable.

How will I do this?

I will be buying my drone in the first week of February. Thereafter, I will talk to a friend who is studying GIS in South Africa to assist in finding free software for drone technology use. I will test my innovation using trial versions of different software before making a decision on which one best suits our conditions and the needed results.

In June 2019, I should have well-developed software for insect pest detection, forecasting and these will then be fed into a mobile platform, which will then suggest solutions to the farmers. All farmers needing consultancy services and technical advisory services will benefit from this innovation.

There are a couple of livelihood projects we are currently involved in and, if we are successful in the N-GAGE project, the innovation will also assist smallholder farming community in these projects.

I have only managed to assist physically in insect pest management for my clients and this has yielded results. Using ICT will even produce more benefit for the farmers. The proposed outcomes will be reduced pesticide usage, improved crop productivity and improved pesticide usage. The success can be measured by looking at pesticide consumption rates and as well as adoption of IPM tools.

I am passionate about this idea because the farming sector is the major driver of economic growth in Zimbabwe. Sadly enough, the production is very low due to lack of experience by the farmers and poor adoption of new technologies, which have always kept production costs high and unsustainable. This innovation will bring new hope and excitement to agricultural youth who have shunned farming as labor intensive and unexciting. I will benefit from increased clientele base due to improved service provision. I will also benefit from reduced operating costs and improved efficiencies. The community will benefit from access to technical advisory services and improved productivity on their farms.

Wilbert Tigere Mutezo, Zimbabwe

17 comments

  1. In the advent of creating a strong foundation and future for appropriate and modernised low cost and efficient agricultural practices, the ideas raised are critical and timely. I strongly feel that we need this kind of mindsets and orientations in Zimbabwe’s drive to anchor her economic development of sustainable agriculture.

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  2. This is the way to go. We need affordable technologies that help us monitor the crop environment and weather pattern so that farmers are well informed

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  3. This is great work bro, we need such innovation in our country so that we can combat food insecurity. We can still retain that status of being the bread basket of Africa if we go in this direction.

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  4. This is the way to go , We are living in the digital world and we should take it even to those small scale and subsistence farmers

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  5. Its an excellent idea and successful implementation of such innovations will greatly improve our agriculture in Zimbabwe and Africa.

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  6. Ian impressed by your work and the milestone so far..I definately look forward to meeting you at the IUPAC 2019 summit

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  7. That’s the way to go, forge our continent ahead to world class standards. It’s good also that you took the initiative and in the first steps bought the drone with your own money. I like that.

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