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XAG

Automated Farming: XAG Introduces Rice Seeding Drone to Mitigate Labour Shortage

25 May 2020, Guangzhou – With the farming population decreasing and growing older, the global food system now faces great uncertainty especially when the covid-19 pandemic exacerbates labour shortages. Its potential havoc can somehow be avoided by the integration of automation technologies. To overhaul the labour-intensive rice farming industry, XAG is scaling up drone applications in China that enable night-time seeding at peak periods.XAG Agricultural UAS spreading rice seeds Drones Sowing Seeds for Aging Farmers On 13 April 2020, XAG organised the world’s first-ever rice direct seeding demonstration on the comparison between manual broadcasting and drone seeding. The operation was conducted in China’s ‘Happy Farms’, one of the largest modern agricultural parks as well as smart agriculture demonstration site in Guangdong province. Two workers were invited to spread 5kg of rice seeds, walking slowly through the waterlogged paddy field with their feet swamped in the mud. This was a laborious and lengthy process, which took them 25 minutes to cover 1,200 square metres of land. Field workers spread seeds by handThen XAG’s drone followed a pre-programmed route and dispensed rice seeds from the air. With JetSeed granule spreading system, it finished the same amount of work in only two minutes. One XAG agricultural drone can seed 50,000 square metres of land per hour, which would otherwise take 50 to 60 field workers to complete. Happy Farms has just introduced XAG’s autonomous drones to replace manual labour for seeding, fertilisation, and crop spraying. Poured rice seeds into XAG JetSeed Granule SystemMany other farms in China, however, are still haunted by the problem of labour dependence, which has increased their vulnerability to the aging farming population. According to National Bureau of Statistics, China’s rural population has substantially reduced by 23% in the past two decades, while those aged over 55 constitute one third of the agricultural workforce. When the older generation of farmers retire and young people pour into the cities for better employment, the future of food supply seems unsecure if counting on manpower. Direct Seeded Rice Planted at Night  Direct seeded rice (DSR) refers to the process of sowing seeds directly into the fields without nursery cultivation and transplantation. As a more sustainable alternative to conventional transplanting, it avoids deteriorating soil health and intensive water use. However, DSR can only be conducted either by hand or use of large ground machinery in the past. Unlike the large-scale agriculture economies, most Asian countries with rice as their staple crop cannot resort to large automated machinery such as driverless tractors, because of the complex terrains, small size of many farms and high costs. This is where the nimble, agile drones can unleash their full potential to empower the rice farmers toiling on the land. For example, XAG’s agricultural drone can not only be utilised to spray crops to ward off pests and diseases, but it can also distribute rice seeds directly into the paddy fields without seedling transplant. Night operationJetSeed is an intelligent granule spreading system mounted on the bottom of XAG agricultural UAS, to endow the drone with new function of direct rice seeding. After simple parameter set-up on app, it generates high-speed airflow to project proper amount of seeds accurately into the targeted topsoil. Such mechanism is designed to maintain optimum spacing and uniform plant density. Compared with manual broadcasting and traditional sowing machine, drone seeding proves to achieve higher seedling rate and lodging resistance as important factors of a bumper harvest. Chinese farmers also start embracing night-time drone seeding to resolve severe labour shortfall during the busy planting season. Li Qisheng, a drone operator in Anhui, China, has turned on night operation mode this May to meet the increasing demands for autonomous direct seeding. “There are two major advantages of seeding at night by drones. First, aerial spreading is more precise and even after sunset when it is usually less windy than during daytime. Second, by extending the operational period, it helps farmers avoid missing the planting season.” XAG agricultural UAS is the only drone in the industry which can operate safely days and nights.  Stabilise Food Security under COVID-19 Pandemic  Uniform plant density by drone seedingXAG has made a great leap forward by taking drone seeding technology from experimental stage to commercial adoption across China’s main rice planting areas. Since April 2019, XAG’s drone direct seeding solutions have been applied to over 650 million square metres of rice fields in China’s 11 provinces. It is helping both smallholders and large farm owners to resolve common challenges such as operational inefficiency, aging crisis, and shortage of field workers. When COVID-19 loomed over the spring planting season, XAG has mobilised farmers to adopt seeding drones as prompt response to rural workforce shortages. Despite the economic disruption, China’s agriculture has witnessed a robust performance with 3.5% year-on-year increase in the added value of the planting industry, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. To feed 1.4 billion people with enough staple food, China this year plans to cultivate 4.6 million hectares of early rice, raising by 0.2 million hectares from last year. However, although the global food system remains well functioning at this moment, the lack of agricultural workforce might undermine future production and supply of food, warned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Many countries are now struggling to mitigate their labour-deficit in seasonal migrant workers, for example, 80,000 farming jobs needs to be filled while that number in Germany reaches to 300,000. With such urgent labour challenges, the shift to automation, powered by smart agtech such as drone, becomes more imperative in the coronavirus age.
2020-05-27 03:29
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XAG

XAG Deploys Drones to Seed Burned Land for Australian Fire Recovery

• XAG joined hands with DELWP and HDLN on the first-ever post-fire drone seeding operation on Cobrico Peat Swamps, Victoria in Australia.• Drones with intelligent spreading system were used to distribute seeds directly into the fire-ravaged, difficult-to-access areas. • The trial project in Lake Cobrico demonstrates the best practice of drones to regenerate peat swamps after a wildfire in a safe, cost-effective manner. AUSTRALIA, 12 May 2020 – In a collective effort to restore Australia from wildfire devastation, XAG has joined the first-ever post-fire drone seeding operation on Lake Cobrico, Victoria. This project was funded by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and managed by Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN). It is the first time that agricultural drones are used to re-establish native vegetation within a fire-ravaged peat swamp in Australia.                                     XAG drone dispersing seeds from air Due to the increasingly frequent, large-scale bushfire, Australia has been facing an unprecedented decline in biodiversity as well as substantial increase in greenhouse gas emission. Particularly, as one of the world’s largest terrestrial carbon reserve, peatlands have been experiencing drainage and fires, which contributes to 5% of global carbon emission. Immediate actions should be taken based on partnership to restore the country’s damaged ecosystem. This April, XAG sent 3 sets of its P Series drones, equipped with JetSeed granule spreading system, to distribute native seeds directly on Lake Cobrico. Within only two days, approximately 40 hectares of burned land was replenished with new plants, using a blend of 12 different seeds. In the next six months, XAG and HDLN will closely monitor the result of drone seeding, which will be compared with that of the other area where plants are going to be natural regrowth. It is expected that the project would be replicated across the region and state, especially within the areas where traditional techniques are inapplicable. Lake Cobrico is a swamp wildlife reserve located near Warrnambool in Southwest Victoria. Part of the peatland was severely damaged during the 2018 St Patrick’s Day Fire, with the vegetation and deeper soil layers left in ruins. In areas of high burn severity, the ecosystem itself might be unable to regenerate naturally and requires human intervention, such as direct seeding, for fire recovery. Re-establishment of native vegetation can slow down erosion and sedimentation, and suppress invasive weeds after a wildfire. Pouring seed mix into JetSeed XAG drones allow seeding to be done on Lake Cobrico, where landowners and managers used to find it difficult to restore the wet, inaccessible fire-impacted areas. During the operation, the drones accurately followed the pre-set flight route, while harnessing high-speed airflows to project seeds from 2-3 metres above the ground. Also, seeding rates could be precisely controlled and adjusted in real time to ensure that the proper amount of seed was distributed evenly into the targeted bare land. This has not only limited the exposure of staffs and ground vehicle to rugged terrain, but also avoided using either too much or too little seeds. HDLN co-ordinator Geoff Rollinson said in an interview with Cobden Timboon Coast Times that, drone technology provides access to all areas despite the complex landforms. “This project wouldn’t be able to go ahead in the normal manner because some areas of Lake Cobrico are unstable,” he said. XAG is the first business in Australia to obtain swarm flight approval from Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), therefore operation of up to five drones by one pilot is made possible to increase efficiency. By innovatively using drones for direct seeding, XAG has transformed the way ecosystem restoration works are conducted. Seeding by hand or ground equipment is inapplicable to Lake Cobrico where part of the peat swamp is difficult to access; this approach might also disturb the vulnerable post-fire vegetation and soil. Aerial seeding by plane or helicopter can cover a larger area, but besides costly, it might result in seed drift and uneven distribution that might adversely affect a successful outcome. Drone operator investigated the fire-affected land The trial project in Lake Cobrico demonstrates the best practice of drones to regenerate fire-impact peat swamps in a safe, cost-effective manner, without human or mechanical trampling on vegetation cover. XAG’s drone seeding solution is now recommended by DELWP and HDLN as a ‘well-designed and sustainable option for environmental restoration works.’ Bushfires are a natural part of Australia’s ecosystem, in which many plant species develop to become fire-resistant. However, the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, as one of the most severe, has brought devastating, long-lasting impact on the world’s biodiversity. Over 17 million hectares of land was burned across the nation, with an estimated one billion animals killed in the raging fires. Cobrico peat swamps Facing great environmental challenges caused by the fire disaster, Australia has been going through a bumpy pathway to long-term recovery. New technologies can empower government and land managers to restore the fire affected regions under safer operating conditions. XAG’s smart agriculture solutions, including drone surveying, remote sensing, and precision chemical application, have been gradually adopted in Australia. If drone seeding techniques can be scaled up for ecosystem restoration across the states, it would help to accelerate the footstep of Australia’s fire recovery.
2020-05-12 18:20
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XAG

The Forest Guardian: Using Smart Agtech to Combat Desertification

On 22 April 2020, Earth heralds its fiftieth anniversary of World Earth Day as every individual and organisation takes responsibility to address the pressing environmental problems. Land degradation and desertification is among one of these major global threats. It is causing climate change and loss of biodiversity, however, which can be reversed by innovative bottom-up approach that mobilises collective efforts for reforestation.Ant Forest’s tree-planting initiative in Northwest China XAG has joined hands with Alipay on Ant Forest, China’s largest private sector anti-desertification initiative, to save the planet from desert encroachment. Digital technologies such as internet-of-things (IoT) are harnessed to connect consumers with some of the distant lands in Northwest China. Trees are planted in the desert regions to reconstruct the fragile, arid ecosystem, while inspiring people to conduct a greener lifestyle and reduce their environmental footprints. The Ant Forest project was launched by Alibaba’s Ant Financial in 2016, connecting consumers, business and NGO partners for social good to fight desertification. Recognised as UN Champions of the Earth, the project encourages people to adopt low-carbon activities, such as taking public transport, walking or paying via e-wallet, that can be recorded and turned into green energy points in the Alipay mobile payment app. When users accumulate a certain number of virtual points, an actual tree is planted in some of China’s arid areas in Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Gansu.Ant Forest’s online platform on Alipay app As the world’s leading agriculture technology company, XAG has been supporting the Ant Forest initiative since 2017 by sending its Field Monitors to safeguard the conservation areas. The Field Monitor, also nicknamed Electronic Scarecrow, is originally designed as part of XAG’s agriculture IoT system to manage crop growth and build a traceable food system. But in the middle of deserts, it has a different role as closest friend to the trees. Every tree planted are carefully looked after by the Field Monitor which can handle heat and wind in desert conditions. Electronic Scarecrow monitoring tree growth Powered by solar energy, it captures high-resolution photos of the trees at intervals, while collecting micro-climate data such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed/direction and illuminance with high accuracy. This enables plant protection experts to monitor tree growth and weather conditions in real time without actually going to the fields. Also, users can view these images of their trees, whenever and wherever, on Alipay Ant Forest app. Because of IoT technology, the tree growing process is made fully transparent online. And every user can witness how young saplings grow into drought-resistant trees that help to control wind speed and blowing sand. People are more profoundly aware of the contributions they made through committing to low-carbon lifestyle. Field Monitor in grain field Up to March 2020, over 550 million users have participated in this green initiative, and nearly 122 million trees have been planted covering a total area of 112,000 hectares. The collaboration between XAG and Ant Forest reflects how technologies can be leveraged for climate action to foster positive impacts and restore the degraded ecosystems.
2020-04-23 03:44
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