“Lê Quốc Trung was born into a rice-farming family in the Tràm Chim area of the Mekong delta and understood the pervasive risk that rice diseases pose for crops. In 2021, he partnered with the Chinese agricultural technology company XAG to bring agricultural drones equipped with AI to the delta region, hoping to improve working conditions and limit the spread of rice diseases.

XAG Mekong gives farmers two options: buy a drone and operate it autonomously, or hire pilots to provide the machine and manage operations. The drones can be configured to scatter seed, spray pesticide, or spread fertilizer. The farmer or pilot first fills the drone with the right amount of material. Then, once the operator has set the parameters and mapped the field, using a mobile phone application, the machine runs automatically and returns when supplies run out. The machines can cut the labor requirements for managing some aspects of crop production by at least half.

Because drones spray or scatter the ideal concentration uniformly over a precise area, farmers require less pesticide and fertilizer than they would if applying materials by hand, says XAG engineer Long Hung. This precision in turn reduces how much of the additives end up in the soil and flush into the river and out to the sea.”

From Hakai Magazine.