McCain Foods turns to drone technology to monitor potato crops
Published Monday, June 23, 2014 7:04PM ADT
For years, drones have mostly been used for military purposes, but now the world’s largest producer of French fries is using the technology to pick up information from its potato fields.
“We can integrate a lot of different data streams from drones and field sensors and package it into a system to help benefit growers and companies like McCain,” says Peter Goggin of Resson Aerospace.
Goggin says drones use camera and sensor technologies to provide potato farmers with information ranging from the distribution of moisture in the soil, to forecasts about how much a crop may actually produce.
“So, our system can generate a weekly report on the crop health so we tell them everything they need to know, exactly what’s happening on the crop in order to optimize the operation, improve their efficiencies and really towards maximizing the profit,” says Goggin.
“This is very much about the evolution taking place within agriculture, as well, we look at Resson Aerospace,” says ,” says New Brunswick Premier David Alward. “This was a company born out of UNB.”
Goggin says potato famers who identify a form of disease on at least part of their crop may feel compelled to spray the entire field, but with drone technology, he says farmers can pinpoint exactly where the problem is.
“So, instead of putting it all over the farm, we can spot spray,” says Goggin. “This reduces the cost of spraying to the farmer and greatly reduces the environmental degradation.”
The provincial government and McCain Foods and will contribute $5 million to the five-year drone project, which the company says will benefit all farmers in New Brunswick.
“It’s going to allow us to hopefully improve the quality and size of the crops we’re getting, and that means lower costs, more competitive costs and more business,” says Allison McCain of McCain Foods Ltd.
The drones will begin gathering information to be used ahead of this year’s harvest.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore