Smart Products are Flying into Agriculture

Smart Products are Flying into Agriculture

John Deere has teamed up with Volocopter to take the hassle out of cropdusting. They developed an impressive 18 rotor drone that will fly over crop fields and rain down fertilizer. It is designed to operate either autonomously or by remote control — giving farmers a fast and seamless way to access their entire operation by air. 

Cyber physical systems (aka smart products) are driving efficiency for farmers everywhere. It’s as simple as taking a physical product, like an aerial vehicle, and adding networking and computing capabilities. With those capabilities, the physical product can then collect, send, and receive data to provide the farmer with valuable insights into their operations. 

Drones specifically have shown huge benefits in agriculture. From overhead disease detection to cropdusting, drones take the difficulty out of day-to-day tasks around the farm. You can either fly them with a remote control, or program a fully autonomous route to expedite some of the more time consuming tasks around the farm. 

Agriculture companies from all over the world are using drones to create efficiencies. 

Del Monte

Del Monte’s pineapple plantation in the Philippines is one of the largest in the world, reaching upwards of 25,000 hectares. To grow the perfect pineapple, it takes up to 18 months. Monitoring an operation that large, and with that kind of growth time, comes with a plethora of challenges and costs. To combat this, Del Monte uses drones to monitor its yield. The vehicles fly autonomously over the massive pineapple fields and collect a range of images, like topography and color. By doing this, the company gets an incredibly valuable transparency into its operation, at any time, so it can make sure everything is up to standards.

McCain Foods

McCain Foods monitors the health of its potatoes by combining drones with IoT sensors in the fields. Pinpointing a disease amongst millions of potatoes is an impossible task without cyber physical systems. McCain deploys IoT sensors throughout the fields to monitor soil attributes, while drones capture photos from above.  Combining the sensor and imaging data, McCain farmers can find exactly where a disease outbreak is happening. Rather than spraying an entire field for disease, they can attend to the specific spots that are affected, as quickly as possible. 


Cargill is using drones to map its palm oil production in Indonesia. The goal is to create a completely transparent supply chain. Drones autonomously fly above the entire operation and build a map of the trees, villages, roads, and streams in the area. With accurate mapping, Cargill can better commit to its sustainability efforts in the area. As an added benefit, the company is now set on using the drones to inspect tree health and better plan and manage the overall production in the area. 


A4 Systems specializes in cyber physical systems for a variety of industries. Each system focuses on digitally transforming a process so that you can collect more data and use it to make informed decisions.