The €35000 drone that can monitor, spray and weed 1000ac a day – Farm Ireland

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Crop-management device is hailed by its designers as the answer to tillage sector’s labour shortages
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A step forward: ZenaDrone uses advanced camera and computer vision to monitor and treat crop plantations
High-tech: The two-metre-wide device has a maximum flight time of one hour. A full charge takes an hour
"The drone is supposed to be capable of removing male hemp plants from the field," says hemp farmer Ed Hanbidge
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Niall Hurson
November 30 2021 02:30 AM
A new crop management drone can tackle labour shortages in farming, its manufacturers claim.
ZenaDrone — planned for launch in Ireland early next year — uses advanced camera and computer vision to monitor and treat crop plantations.
Described as an “octocopter drone” by Canadian firm ZenaTech, it has eight propellers.
The two-metre-wide device has a maximum flight time of one hour. A full charge takes an hour.

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High-tech: The two-metre-wide device has a maximum flight time of one hour. A full charge takes an hour
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The drone can monitor plant health and potential problems using a multi-spectral sensor; it is hoped that this will enable farmers to reduce the use of pesticides.
The drone is also capable of spraying and removing diseased crops from the field.
At top speed, it can manage 100ac per hour, with potential to cover 1,000ac in a day, weather permitting.
The technology is patent pending in the US.
Farmers interested in the technology to their farm will have to buy €35,000-worth of hardware and software, which includes the drone, charging pad, base station, initial set-up and training — in line with guidelines set out by the Irish Aviation Authority.
Ongoing support from ZenaDrone will cost an additional €6,000 per year.
Founded in 2018, ZenaTech’s initial products were aimed at marijuana and hemp-related businesses.
Founder Dr Shaun Passley aims to create up to 30 new jobs in Ireland next year.
“Initially, most of our staff will be based in south Dublin, which will allow us to cover the east of the country,” he says.
“We plan to have staff based in Cork, Galway, and Belfast to allow for nationwide coverage.”
He hopes to have up to 30 drones operational here in 2022, with up to 15 employees assisting Irish farmers by March.
ZenaDrone decided to launch in Ireland due to the prominence of the agri sector relative to the size of the island.
They believe the drone will help the agri sector close its labour gap. Cereal production in Ireland declined by 16pc between 2019 and 2020 according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
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The technology will be initially trialled on hemp farms before being rolled out to the wider tillage sector.
One such early adopter is Wicklow farmer Ed Hanbidge, who grows 40ac of hemp at the foothills of the Keadeen Mountain.

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"The drone is supposed to be capable of removing male hemp plants from the field," says hemp farmer Ed Hanbidge
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“If it does what it says on the tin, it will be revolutionary technology,” he says. “With a steep price tag, a cost benefit analysis will have to be done by farmers considering it.
“The drone is supposed to be capable of removing male hemp plants from the field.
“This is important for the cannabinoid content of our end product.”
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