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Product Watch Report: Satellites and drones for less intensive farming and arable crops

In February 2021, the Advanced Technology for Industry (ATI) project published its product watch about Satellites and drones for less intensive farming and arable crops. The report highlights the use of satellites and drones for arable crops, and analyses the EU’s place in the agricultural sector in comparison with international players in the market.

With the global population growing intensively over the past few years, the pressure on the agricultural sector has continued to increase. In this regard, technological trends are emerging in the agri-food industry, as highlighted in the Technological trends in the agri-food industry report published in August 2020. Moreover, new technologies are being used in the agriculture decision-making process to improve its efficiency, such as satellites and drones.

Satellites can capture data using their sensors to take pictures of the earth surface at regular intervals. Drones can provide farmers with the same data as satellites, and they offer more flexibility and an increased spatial resolution.

The report has studied the value chain for satellites and drones used for less intensive farming, supported by diverse technologies such as the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, the report provides readers with an analysis of the strengths, challenges, opportunities and risks for the EU in this market. Some risks are the positioning regarding Asia and the United States and fear of crop damage. Examples of challenges are in the legislation and the need to explain how technologies work. However, the EU benefits from technological strengths, as well as programmes such as Copernicus, the EU Earth Observation Programme, offering information services. The use of satellites and drones could increase the yield per hectare and help with detecting diseases.

The main conclusions of the report are that satellites and drones in agriculture would allow better monitoring and informed decision-making. However, this requires support in the implementation of the solutions, as well as training and raising awareness. For more information, please consult the report itself. Learn more about the ATI project here.