Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Brazilian company Santos Lab unveiled a first-of-its-kind collaboration on Wednesday to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and advanced analytics for precision agricultural applications, Trend reports referring to The Jerusalem Post.
IAI, Israel's leading aviation manufacturer, will provide its fully-automated BirdEye 650D UAV systems and analyze collected data. Santos Lab will operate the UAVs, equipped with a hyper-spectral wide-coverage imager especially developed to pursue the precision agriculture market.
The UAVs will perform agricultural missions, IAI said, covering large areas utilizing beyond visual line of sight missions. Typical tasks will include monitoring crops including soy and sugar cane, and commercial forestry to accurately analyze crops and soil condition.
The partnership, which will enable the generation of reports on large-scale farming areas, is expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.
"IAI has over 40 years' experience with UAVs, mainly for military applications," said Moshe Levy, IAI EVP and general manager of its Military Aircraft Group.
"Utilizing our systems for agricultural applications is a good example of how we look to commercialize our know-how to broaden our offering."
From the end of 2019, customers will be able to access high-precision analytics through a dedicated cloud solution, only made possible by hyper-spectral technology enabling high-resolution and accurate identification of crop condition from high altitude.
"This system will allow farmers to take conscious decisions on how to better manage their crops in the most efficient manner, introducing precision agriculture on a large industrial scale throughout Brazilian fields," said Santos Lab CEO Gabriel Klabin.
"The use of this technology can positively impact the whole cycle of food production and consumption, even enabling people to eat at a lower cost, and this is just the beginning."
Brazil's huge agricultural sector is one of the key drivers of its economy, with exports of agricultural commodities such as soybeans and sugar estimated to have exceeded $100 billion in 2018 for the first time.
Accordingly, there is great interest in precision agriculture as producers and the export community seek to increase productivity and continued growth.