Sharing

Here we share our dream. We address the needs for service in agriculture and see the solutions  for this.

Service needs

According to FAO, food production is to be increased to 70% to cover the needs in 2050This means a serious challenge. Current agricultural production trends replace labor by mechanical equipment, like tractors and harvesting machines.  But this heavy equipment also leads to destruction of soils and environmental pollution by the use of agro chemicals for plagues, disease and weed control.

Today consumers globally have clear demands on the how of agricultural production. It should use less fossil fuels, less chemicals for crop protection, maintain soil quality and more space for nature.

Proposed solution

The answer to this quest is precision agriculture: in this, crops are planted under GPS rows and given treatments against weeds, insect plagues or plant diseases only there where needed.   Precision agriculture is at its infancy, but it will be the way of agricultural production in future. Highly efficient production can be reached. The basis of it is robotics.

Our solution: a drone with programmed flight carrying out all crop care tasks between sowing and harvesting. With on board cameras it can recognize weeds, diseases and act by spraying with chemical/biological means, only where needed. Advantages: environmentally friendly, enabling beneficial intercropping, avoiding tractor trail surface loss and soil compaction, and available 24/7.  It also allows the use of intercropping, thereby reducing risks of monoculture vulnerability of disease and plagues.

Our drone is a flying tractor with robot features. It can carry different implements to a 100 kg with some 20 min flight time with batteries, extendable to 1.5 hrs with a range extender. It is the flying working horse for precision agriculture.

Our drone is a flying tractor with robot features. It can carry different implements to a 100 kg with some 20 min flight time with batteries, extendable to 1.5 hrs with a range extender. It is the flying working horse for precision agriculture.

How it will be done

We have set up a company with the team of expert engineers in aviation, robotics, agriculture and manufacturing.

  • Winfried Rijssenbeek
  • Marko Stamenovic
  • Predrag Devic
  • Kees de Blok
  • Andy Markward
  • Marcello Tanio
And have key international advisors. We plan to attract more staff.
Over the last year we have developed and tested a working proof of concept. Currently we are testing programmed flight. The drone will have substantial markets in North America, Middle East, and other emerging market economies. Preliminary studies in some export market crops clearly show the advantage: it can reduce production costs by 50% and increase crop yields by 20 %.

We have built up a huge network with aviation certifiers, farmer organizations and suppliers.
We are working together with Universities of Wageningen (precision agriculture), Twente (Aerodynamics), Delft (Robotics) and others.

Technical description

The Proof of Concept and further
The drone is easily transportable in needs 2 people to put it on a trailer. It’s size is 2.2 by 2.8 meters (current Proof of Concept) It can lift 100 kg easily and has 8 rotors using e motors with a max capacity of 10 kW. It has a battery (LiPo) for current 10 min flight.
In the development of the real prototype that we can do if we win the award, we plan to make a foldable type with larger diameter silent props, so to increase the flight time to 1 hrs with 20 kg, and 20 min with 100 kg. That system will have aircraft certification and its components will be of that quality. We will have dedicated triple redundant auto pilot with hardware embedded component against hacking, against using it in conflict areas, or outside of the country where it was sold. We can avoid inappropriate use of the system that way.

The Service Scenario
The idea is to apply the drone in precision agriculture for all tasks except for land preparation (ploughing) or harvesting that might require big heavy machinery .

1. Sanitizing ground
2. Opening of furrows, planting and covering
3. Fertilization NPK and Micro elements (frequency)
4. Disease and plague control (frequency)
5. Weed control (frequency)
6. Monitoring (frequency)
7. Irrigation (frequency)

The fields are planted according to GPS coordinates and mapped by the planting machine (the normal tractor). With sensor cameras samplers and intelligence mounted on our drone we can map the farmers fields and take soil samples. This data will be displayed for the farmer. From his control room he can decide what to do in case of plagues, diseases or weeds. He can also leave it to an automatic program of reaction.

Next, the plan for applications is programmed by the farmer: eg every week from XX to YY period spray a protective coating on the potatoes. Next the weather station information will be coupled to the drone planning program: the drone planning program will sense if the drone batteries (using solar PV on the storage buildings for the crops) are loaded and the spray tank is filled. Next from the date desired to do the crop spraying it will check the forecast to see the appropriate flight times. It will eg start its automatic flight (final approval by the farmer) and do its job of spraying according to the ground station programming. Next it will return to base and be connected to the charger and refilled for the next flight. We think that this refilling can also be done fully automatic in future. So the farmers of the future can leave these tasks of crop care and fertilization to this sort of drones. With more and more intelligence, sensor technologies, and payload (we can also design for a 200 kg load) we can be making farming a high productive activity with minimum impact on the environment. A new generation of young farmers welcomes this future.

This above scenario will take 5 years to unfold. However we already have a market with the drone. It can be automatically programmed, it can spray on dedicated parts of the scanned area. The investment by the farmer can be paid back in less than 3 years. So it will have an interesting market potential!

Technologies we need

The technology today is moving quite fast allowing the technical possibility of this aircraft. High efficiency brushless motors with good output are available nowadays. Programmable motor control systems combined with gyroscopes allow maximized safety. With modern application of GPS technology these systems are opening possibilities for further development. One of the most important area is a further battery development that will allow expending the flight envelope. The existing LiPo technology has now been combined with nanotechnology allowing the performance of the batteries to be improved not only in the energy per kg, but also in the power per kg. For a 5 min flight one still needs a considerable battery pack, but it can be done.
If we reflect on this development, it is basically the RC community that demanded specialized products with top of the bill specifications. As the RC planes and helicopters got bigger, the equipment evolved simultaneously. Imagine a 10 KW electric motor weighting 2.5 kg. Quite a feat!
The costs of the prototype craft are substantial in today’s value and amount ca 20.000 Eur, of which 50% is material and 50% is workmanship. Both can be reduced considerably in future if produced in series. A target could be 5000 Euro/craft.
The aircraft brushless motors have low losses and no wear, and LiPo technology, based on the high value, provides the possibility for recycling. Noise is limited to the propellers since the electric motors are quiet. Due to these facts we can say that aircraft is environmentally friendly.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Here we want to pay courtesy to sources that were used for the website youtube: