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Drones to study rice in Philippines

The Philippines may use drones as monitoring instrument to help researchers gather accurate data and efficiently study rice

Roger Barroga, leading the study on Future Rice Program in Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), said that a training programme on drone technology will be conducted following its recent introduction in October 2014.

To be implemented next year, the training programme will highlight flight tutorials and application of the drone’s features.

The technology features a high-definition camera, flight stabiliser and global positioning system (GPS) that allows users to programme its flight path. It can fly for eight to 10 minutes and can travel up to a maximum distance of two km.

Barroga said that the technology can be maximised for research activities such as data collection, tracking growth patterns, pests and nutrient management.

Meanwhile, Dindo Tabanao, head of PhilRice plant breeding and biotechnology division, added that in a wider scale, drone can be used to inspect damages during calamities, monitor rice fields during crop establishment, and assess real time conditions in cyclone-hit areas.

Researchers also said that the device can help reduce cost in multi-location monitoring and trials.

“We will further explore the technology’s features so researchers could spend their time efficiently,” Tabanao added.

The drone is available for sale in the country for US$559.