At Agritechnica you can find a lot of big machinery. But the push to make farming leaner, effective and energy-friendly calls for new technology. We found a Chinese company that is proving that drones are not just a gadget for nerdy farmers.
The Clipper: Please tell us a bit about the history of the company.
Justin Gong: We are XAG, based in China. The company was founded in 2007. Initially our company developed drones for industrial applications like photography. But in 2013 the company saw opportunities to move into the agricultural sector, to replace tedious manual labor. Now we are one of the largest agriculture drone companies in China. Until today, we sold more than 40,000 agriculture drones in China and now we are expanding into the overseas market.
The Clipper: What are the main applications?
Justin Gong: We offer two types of drones. One is for crop spraying, our latest version can also apply fertilizers and seeds. We have also have a smaller drone that can do survey and sensing. Farmers would always use the survey drone to map the field with a 3D high definition map. Then we use our own AI engine and we can import this map into a crop protection drone.
The Clipper: What are the most questions that people ask you here at Agritechnica?
Justin Gong: Europe has a lot of regulations for spraying. Most European countries do not allow aerial spraying – only Switzerland allows aerial spraying since last July. While large agricultural machinery is still dominant in Europe drones are much more flexible. They can operate in many different terrains and topography – terraces, hills, mountains.
The Clipper: Can you reduce the amount of chemicals needed for a certain crop?
Justin Gong: We do a lot of experiments in China. We found out that aerial spraying can reduce chemical inputs by up to 30%. It is more eco-friendly than manual spraying or tractor spraying. One of the advantages of our drones is an atomization spraying system. We can change the speed of the rotational spraying system. We create very fine droplets. The strong propellers create powerful downdraft which helps avoid drift of chemicals. We only want to spray where it’s needed.
The Clipper: You are also working specifically on applications for the nut sector.
Justin Gong: Yes, we have a branch in Australia. We are working a team from the South Australian Research Center. As you know the bee population is decreasing globally and the situation is even more serious in Australia. We collaborate with a local research team to develop a new system for pollination. We are still in the research stage.
The Clipper: Thank you very much.