Uganda Flying Labs Trains Students to Use Drones in Agriculture
On May 27, Uganda Flying Labs held our face-to-face training following the COVID-19 lockdown. We had carefully planned how best to make the training environment safe, including starting with only a few candidates to bring SOP into practice. The training’s focus was elementary drone pilot training, where candidates learned basic drone knowledge, mission planning, and the capabilities of different types of drones.
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, so participants were most keenly interested in how drones are used in agricultural activities. Among the trainees, 75 percent are connected to agriculture. One trainee, for example, is employed on a commercial farm and dreams of flying drones for pesticide control. Drones offer a safer, more effective solution to pesticide spraying compared to the current use of tractors. While tractors can carry large volumes of pesticide, they are slow in completing vast acreages of crops while simultaneously consuming gallons-and-gallons of fuel. On the other hand, drones can rapidly do the same job, taking less than five days to cover the same plot and reducing the risk of losing infected crops—a familiar story with tractor spraying.
One participant who is an IT guru and university lecturer iced the training discussion to say drone data captured at his farm has a thread for AI and ML application for his classes. Drones to him are for recreation, yet they continue to spark his innovation.
We then traveled to Mukono-Katosi Rd Farm for hands-on training to provide the group with some real-world relevance. The trainees could not wait to lay their hands on the miniature metallic bird. We used a Mavic Pro because it is an easy to maneuver drone that gives trainees an exhilarating experience. By the end of their 20 minutes of flying, no one wanted to let go of the drone! We all appreciated the lush green, breathe fresh air, and, for a moment, escape from the pandemic stresses.
The students look forward to training in data analysis in agriculture and agriculture cargo drone training.