Flying further, for longer and able to reach the most inaccessible areas, SGS’s new generation of drones make precision farming easier and more effective than ever.


Man with Drone

Flying further, for longer and able to reach the most inaccessible areas, SGS’s new generation of drones make precision farming easier and more effective than ever.

Drones represent the future for imaging and data collection in precision farming. Larger machines, with longer lasting batteries make aerial surveys a reality for small farmers, farming co-operatives and commercial farms.

New technologies make it possible to deliver high-resolution images and rapid reporting, as well as targeted sampling and testing within days. With drone camera resolution reaching 3cm, compared to 5-15 meters for affordable satellite imagery, the images are clearer, sharper and a much more effective tool for agronomists.

Deliverable on a New Scale

Covering farms from 2 to 2,000 hectares on a single charge, a much greater range than previously, our new drone is equipped with two cameras, which can deliver:

  • Low-resolution orthophoto mosaic (stitched) images in Pix4D
  • High-resolution orthophoto mosaic images
  • NDVI map
  • Contours/digital terrain models (DTM)
  • High-resolution 3D model
  • Fly-through/animation of the survey

Fast and Effective

On landing, images are downloaded and stitching can be completed overnight, allowing agronomists to start their analysis and report promptly. Survey recommendations, sampling, testing and analysis can be targeted to the most relevant areas and completed within days. These interventions are possible much more quickly than when working with satellite imagery, which takes longer to receive and is lower resolution.

Example: Citrus Trees – Growth Problems

SGS’s new drone, with its high-resolution photography, delivers clear images that under analysis by our agronomists help to build an inventory not only of the fields, but also of individual trees. In a survey conducted on citrus trees suffering growth problems, optical imagery offers a clear overview of the area (image 1), NDVI provides a graphical interpretation of growth rates (image 2) and the high-resolution of our images allows agronomists and farmers to zoom in and look at individual trees (image 3).

Image 1

Precision Mapping

Tapping into other technologies, the new generation of drone technology works with Google Earth. All images include precise GPS mapping and farmers can click on any ‘spot’ on them to reveal detailed photography and survey data.

Drone imagery can be used to:

  • Identify and highlight:
    • Nutrient issues
    • Water application – evaluation of irrigation systems, even identifying overlap between irrigation systems(an issue that can be as bad for crops as no water)
  • Create zone maps
  • Give a clear visual picture of conditions in the field

Access All Areas

Roads do not limit drones. They can be deployed to conduct surveys in the most hard to reach farm locations – whether that access is limited by poor infrastructure, or geographic remoteness.

Operating in real-time, delivering very highresolution images on demand and with low operating costs, the new generation of drones improves farming productivity, yield and sustainability.

With a range of up 2 to 2,000 ha this technology can be equally applied to small and commercial farms. It helps smaller enterprises to cut costs and improve productivity, if farms work together results from a single survey can be delivered on a farm-by-farm basis.

Example: Plant Health on Wheat

NDVI data is used to review a number of performance indicators for plant health and growth. In a plant health survey conducted on wheat crops, our agronomists used NDVI imagery and data to create a detailed picture of plant health. A nutrient map (image 4) identifies zones requiring treatment, an irrigation map (image 5) demonstrates the effectiveness of irrigation systems and whether or not water is being applied evenly, it even identifies overlapping between pivots (image 6) – where over-watering can be as damaging to crops as lack of water.

Irrigation System

Weathering the Conditions

As well as extended range, battery power and functionality, the new drones is able to fly in most weather conditions – even in wind speeds of up to 18 km per hour. This is a significant improvement on previous drones, and still more flexible than satellite options.

Cobus Burger
Business Manager
SGS South Africa
45 Promosa Road
Potch Industria
t: +271 8285 0200