Brazil: Drone Technology Development Program for Precision Agriculture

Drone Technology Development Program for Precision Agriculture Aims to Help Farmers Reduce Environmental Impact and Increase Crop Yields
Jan 8, 2020 10:55 AM ET

Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ is a strategic initiative that brings wireless technology to underserved communities globally. Wireless Reach invests in programs that foster entrepreneurship, aid in public safety, enhance the delivery of health care, enrich teaching and learning and improve environmental sustainability. Mobile technology, powered by Qualcomm inventions, has helped shape a better future by bringing the Internet to the unconnected, education to the unschooled, financial services to the unbanked, and jobs to the unemployed. Currently, there are 119 Wireless Reach programs in 47 countries reaching over 18 million people through Qualcomm technology.

Brazil is a global agricultural superpower. Family farms dominate the country’s agricultural landscape. They account for 85 percent of all rural properties and produce more than 70 percent of food consumed domestically. 

With the world’s population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, agricultural demand globally is expected to grow by 70 percent. To meet this demand, farms — including those in Brazil — need to become more productive and more sustainable. 

Brazilian farmers would greatly benefit from access to timely and accurate data about the health of their crops and fields. Having this information would allow them to take immediate actions to increase their crop yields while decreasing the environmental impact of their food production. Unfortunately, the family or smallholder farmers that dominate Brazil’s agricultural industry are largely without access to the advanced technology, human and financial resources and knowledge that can help them improve their agricultural intelligence.

The Drone Technology Development Program for Precision Agriculture is a collaboration between our Company, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Institute for Solidarity Socioeconomics (ISES) to innovate affordable drone technology that will be able to provide immediate, actionable agricultural intelligence to small and medium farmers. The on-board systems combine Embrapa’s expertise in agriculture and image processing algorithms with our Qualcomm® Flight™3 drone platform and advanced wireless technology to collect, process, analyze and transmit accurate crop intelligence data to trained agronomists. The agronomists access the information using a 4G, Wi-Fi or LAN capable device, such as a smartphone, tablet or PC, with a user-friendly web interface. The agronomists then work with farmers to translate precise crop intelligence metrics into recommendations for taking specific actions, such as when and where to fertilize or spray agrochemicals. This solution allows for higher crop yields and reduces environmental degradation by pinpointing areas that require spot applications rather than whole-field treatments.

It is our shared belief that by developing more affordable and improved onboard systems for drones, this program will accelerate the widespread adoption of drone technology in the farming industry. We know that these innovations must be designed for more than industrial farmers. To make the necessary gains in productivity and to mitigate environmental degradation through the expansion of sustainable farming practices, the smallholder farmers who own more than 80 percent of the world’s farms also need to have access to this improved technology.

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Read the 2018 Qualcomm Sustainability Report