Agronomists say a drone bee can help them with drought conditions, in a case that is part of a wider push to develop the agricultural sector in remote areas.
It is a step towards the development of the industry by providing information to farmers on where to find and when to plant crops.
The drone bee has been developed by scientists at the University of Bristol in the UK, using a 3D printing technique called “printing with the swarm”.
They say the drone bee will make it easier to plant seeds in drought-prone areas, reducing costs for farmers.
Dr Zhaowei Zhang, a professor at the Bristol Robotics Centre, said the drones would make it possible for farmers to plan ahead in areas that could see high rainfall, as well as in areas where the crop can be planted later in the season.
“With these new technologies we can now do the same with crops that are already planted,” she said.
“It means that farmers have a greater ability to plant and harvest a crop without having to worry about watering it down in the dry season.”
Dr Zhang and her colleagues were studying the effects of drought on plants in the South China Sea, a region that is one of the world’s driest regions.
She said that although the South is a rich source of agricultural products, there was a lot of work to be done in order to increase crop yields and reduce the impacts of drought.
Dr Zhang said that while the drones are designed to monitor crops, they will also help farmers monitor the drought conditions.
“In a very low water supply environment, the drone bees can detect the water levels and help farmers to adjust their irrigation and fertiliser settings,” she explained.
“They can also help them to increase the efficiency of their irrigation systems.”
In the South, the farmers are also working to make sure they can use drones to monitor the soil moisture levels and crop yield.
The farmers say they have been able to plant more than 20 crops with the drones, and to monitor crop yield for the first time.
Dr Wang says the drones could help farmers in some areas, but it could also be the case that farmers are using drones for more than one purpose.
“Some farmers have also started using drones to help with crop harvesting and other crop monitoring,” she noted.
Dr Zhao has also developed a drone system that is more efficient and more efficient at controlling pests.
“Our drones are capable of monitoring pests that can be on the ground and controlling them, like insects, ants and caterpillars,” Dr Zhao said.
Dr Shen said the research is important for developing better ways to monitor drought conditions in remote and semi-arid areas.
“These types of systems can also be used to monitor land-use in semi- arid regions like India or in areas with water scarcity like the arid zone in Pakistan,” she added.
“As these systems are being developed for rural farmers in developing countries, we will have to make efforts to further increase the use of these systems for farmers in the near future.”
This article was first published on December 2, 2016 and has been updated to reflect the news that the drones were made by the University at Bristol.