Israeli farmers deploy pollinating drones to fill COVID-19 labor shortage

The large-scale project uses multiple drones flying simultaneously, equipped with innovative pods developed by Dropcopter to store and effectively dispense pollen from the air.

Israeli farmers deploying pollinating drones to fill coronavirus labor shortage (Credit: BWR)
Farmers located in the Jordan Valley and Arava have deployed an innovative solution to overcome labor shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak: aerial pollination using drones.
Date plantation growers in the region have grown particularly concerned as border crossings were closed, precisely as they entered the critical palm tree pollination period between February and April. Recruiting local hands willing to work in peripheral areas has also proved challenging for the growers.
To ensure continued pollination, growers turned to Israeli unmanned system operator Blue White Robotics (BWR) and New York-based drone pollinator Dropcopter, who have successfully tested drone-based palm pollination in recent months at the Arava Institute.
The experiment at the desert research facility was carried out in response to declining bee populations. Aerial pollination has become increasingly important due to recent flooding in the Jordan Valley, which has prevented ground pollination in many areas.
The large-scale project uses multiple drones flying simultaneously, equipped with innovative pods developed by Dropcopter to store and effectively dispense pollen from the air. The solution replaces an alternative and inefficient technique using fans attached to tractors.
Ori Kooper, a grower from the Jordan Valley and user of the drone pollination system, told The Jerusalem Post that eliminating the human factor in some jobs will "significantly reduce the amount of variables" in agriculture, enabling greater profits and uniform agricultural produce.
"Growing dates from strains of Medjool require a lot of working hands and, despite all the technological solutions that we have today, the drones give us a solution that is not only faster and more efficient, but also more economical and accurate so that profits are not just doubled but tripled," said Kooper.
With date plantations in Israel totaling some 15,000 acres and each palm tree requiring pollination on four occasions, technological solutions are key to reducing the manpower needed during the pollination period.



Tags drone Farming