Drone Use for Sustainable Precision Agriculture

1) Sustainability Problem: Health

As the world population increases, the planet has experienced increasing demands in food production and consumption. Additionally, climate change is leading to agriculture loss. These phenomena put pressure on farmers and agronomists to use and manage their resources more effectively and efficiently in order to secure the health and well-being of the people the industry serves.

2) Article Title: “The Role of Drone Technology in Sustainable Agriculture”; Website Name: PrecisionAg TecHub; Article Link: https://www.precisionag.com/in-field-technologies/drones-uavs/the-role-of-drone-technology-in-sustainable-agriculture/

  • Precision agriculture practices including fine-scale monitoring and mapping of yield and crop parameter data help farmers exercise more intense and efficient cultivation methods. They can make decisions based on economic and environmental factors to boost yields and achieve cost and environmental savings.
  • Using drones with robust data analytics can be a powerful method of supporting precision agriculture practices. Drones can be used in a variety of functions:
    • Crop monitoring to plan and make improvements such as the use of ditches and evolving fertilizer applications
    • Accurately tracing products from farm to fork using GPS locations throughout the entire journey
    • Carefully monitoring large areas of farmland, considering factors such as slope and elevation, to identify suitable seeding prescriptions
    • Assessing crop fertility with high-resolution drone data to more accurately apply fertilizer, reduce wastage, and plan irrigation systems

3) Organizational Stakeholders

Stakeholders for drone technology in precision agriculture could include the following:

  • Local community members that may be concerned about privacy, especially if drones are collecting data very high level data (controlled airspace, around airports, individuals’ privacy)
  • Famers
  • Drone manufacturers
  • Software providers
  • Agricultural service providers
  • Agronomists

4) Implementation Process

Before implementing drone technology for precision agriculture purposes, agricultural professionals need to decide whether to train an internal team to fly the drones or to hire a third-party. There are cost considerations associated with this decision.

The parties using the drone need to assess regulations in the area before using the drones. Regulations vary by region and are constantly changing, so drone users need to make sure they comply with regulations involving controlled airspaces around airports or the privacy of individuals.

A technology evaluation must be completed to determine which type of drone with which software is best suited for the land in question. Since drones have so many uses and can collect so many different types of data, some types may be better suited for certain situations.


A greenhouse that lets you produce crops and electricity simultaneously

  1. Sustainability Problem: Food production will continue to be an exigent issue tied with population growth. The development of greenhouses has been revolutionary, but they are expensive to install and operate. Soliculture provides a sustainable solution that creates clean energy and optimizes growing practices.
  2. The LUMO technology commercialized by Soliculture and Solaria Corporation utilizes the Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs) to enhance light quality by converting green light to red light. The optimized light spectrum enhances power production from the solar panels and facilitates plant growth. Other features are as follows:
    • Reduces capital cost of installation – from solar energy incentives and grants
    • Offsets electricity bill with sustainable solar energy production
    • No harm on plants and energy production – positive effects on plant growth
    • Land use efficiency – co-producing crops and electricity
    • Energy monitoring with user-friendly online software


Soliculture | Innovative Technology


This solar greenhouse could change the way we eat | UCSC NewsCenter


Solar greenhouses generate electricity and grow crops at the same time, UC Santa Cruz study reveals | UCSC NewsCenter


  1. Stakeholders:
    • Citizens around the world
    • Urban farms
    • Agriculture industry
    • Energy Markets
    • Energy Industry
    • Building contractors and architects
    • Groceries and supermarkets
  2. Next steps:
    • Do a feasibility study and engage with stakeholders to improve relations
    • Reach an agreement on costs and economic outlook
    • Initiate pilot-scale project through government funding


By: Timothy Wiranata

UNI: tw2618

Comment on Conserving water, one shower at a time.:

“This is an innovative technology that building contractors should really think about when equipping shower heads in accommodation units. The technology does not only saves water but also saves money through savings on water/utility bill. The website even has a feature to count your annual savings!”

Algae and its many uses – The Algae Dome

uni – js5079 (Joshua Strake)

Sustainability Area(s) – Energy, Waste
Specific Issues Addressed – CO2 in the atmosphere, Carbon footprint of food
Links: One, Two, Three


The Algae Dome represents one way to use algae to address the rising need to curb emissions of CO2, as well as the need to produce food at a low (or in this case zero) carbon cost to the planet. Whether or not the Algae Dome is scalable is another debate that I won’t speculate on, but this Algae Dome does successfully address certain sustainable goals while providing an eco-friendly outdoor space as well.


  • The Algae Dome is a closed-loop system of hundreds of meters of coiled tubing that contains micro-algae, developed by SPACE10 labs in Copenhagen.
  • Micro-algae grows off of the energy of sunlight, water, and CO2 – the result of this growth is additional micro-algae and Oxygen emitted as a byproduct.
  • Micro-algae itself contains more protein than meat as well as other nutrients, and considering the carbon cost of meat, this makes it an attractive potential substitute in cooking, should it prove to be easy to cook with and manipulate.
  • The micro-algae grows quickly, and due to the closed-loop nature of the system, the Algae Dome could succeed anywhere with sunlight and temperatures above freezing, making it a potentially wide-ranging sustainable option.


1 – Space10, holders of the IP.

2 – Farmers and Food manufacturers who could adopt micro-algae.

3 – Governments and NGOs looking to use micro-algae to address hunger and CO2-emission reduction needs.

3 Steps for Further Implementation

1 – Discover if the tech is cost efficient and scalable. Is smoke being blown? How much?

2 – Develop contractor relationships to ramp up production

3 – Engage consumers who may be interested in the technology – green farmers, cities, food banks, etc.

Algae Scampi

NWF+shrimpProblem: Carbon emissions
People love to eat shrimp, but some estimates place their carbon impact as higher than even beef, mostly due to the destruction of natural habitats near shrimp farms.

Technology: Algae Shrimp

  • New Wave Foods has developed a highly realistic synthetic shrimp that is made out of algae, which is ubiquitous and solidly occupies a bottom rung on the food chain.
  • Algae needs only sunlight, water and CO2 to grow. In contrast shrimp are fed wild-caught fish. Producing 1 pound of shrimp is estimated to use up three pounds of fish.
  • Algae uses CO2 to perform photosynthesis, serving to convert carbon into useable, sequestered energy (food calories).
  • Scientists analyzed and mimicked the molecular structure of shrimp flesh in order to create a realistic substitute out of red algae.
  • The shrimp industry globally utilizes a lot of slave labor, particularly for removing the shells and appendages. Algae shrimp does not require anything preening, which could eliminate the worst labor practices.

Early adopters including Google’s cafeteria
New Wave Foods

Steps to implementation:
1) Run pilot at Google cafeteria.
2) Perform sustainability analysis of algae farms and production plants.
3) Develop campaign to fight misconceptions of algae as food.

Google’s Famous Kitchens May Serve Fake Shrimp Made of Algae

Soil-Free Farming Grows Vegetables in the Desert

  1. Technology (http://www.livescience.com/42835-soil-free-farming-grows-vegetables-in-the-desert.html)

Agricel is a Dubai-based venture which hopes to expand film farming technology across the U.A.E where water scarcity is a central problem. With the film farming system, plants are grown on a hydromembrane invented by Professor Dr Yuichi Mori of Waseda University in Japan which is made up of water-soluble polymer and hydrogel. Each internal cell within the film adsorbs and holds water and plant nutrients, preventing evaporation and surface loss.

The soil-free technology allows users to reap several benefits. Using Agricel’s technology, farms require 90% less water than traditional methods, while also using 80% less chemicals and producing 50% higher yields. The incidence of diseases by pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) is also fully controlled even without chemicals, because the pathogens cannot penetrate the hydromembrane. The growing method causes the plants to increase their sugar production and amino acids in order to absorb the water. The byproduct of this is produce that is sweeter and more vitamin rich.


  1. Sustainability Problem

Agricel seeks to ease the daunting task of feeding future generations in an increasingly uncertain climate and world. By promoting film farming and the use of hydrophillic boosters, they have focused their efforts on more efficient water use and fighting world hunger.

This technology reduces the amount of water and fertilizer needed in plants which means crops can be grown in water scarce regions or regions with poor quality soil. The film is versatile and can be placed on nearly any surface such as concrete, bricks or even sand and greenhouse, and in nearly any climate. Hydrogel can be mixed into the local sandy soil, boosting water retention and nutrient distribution.

  1. Stakeholders
  • Agriculture industry
  • Urban and traditional farmers
  • Material researchers
  1. Implementation Process

Launched in 2010, the Agricel network is primarily based in Japan but has since extended to China, Pakistan, Nigeria, the U.A.E, U.K. and Australia. The range of test pilots with successful results allow them to prove the technology’s adaptability.

They are now focusing on partnering with organizations which do not necessarily have the farming technologies or experience but have powerful distribution networks, negotiation capabilities and confidence in the technology to provide safe, reliable and highly nutritive produce. This will allow the technology to be implemented on a larger scale, leveraging partners’ existing network and Agricel’s technical expertise.

Despite the many benefits of film farming, the foremost barrier to implementation is the high cost. The hydrogel film is sold at around $2,000/ acre with a professional installation of about $2 million. However the company suggests that the initial investment will be returned between 18-24 months due to the low operational costs of the farm, in addition to the increased yield and improved quality of the produce.

For their next steps, the company hopes with their expanding scope and scale of technology implementation that continuous R&D could lead to the application of film farming in industrial production.




Agricel, Why Film Farming: http://www.agricel.co/why-film-farming.html

Appropedia, Film Farming: http://www.appropedia.org/Film_Farming

Hydrate Life, Water Saving Technologies: Film Farming: http://www.hydratelife.org/?p=360

Your Culinary World, Amazing New Farming Technique Could Make Food Available Almost Everywhere for Everyone: http://www.yourculinaryworld.com/leading-stories/2012/4/10/amazing-new-farming-technique-could-make-food-available-almo.html

Taking the Sting out of Beekeeping

Sustainability Problem:

Apiary Inspectors of America survey shows that US beekeepers lost 42 percent of their honeybees from April 2014 to April 2015. The decline of bees threatens our food production. As well, colony losses pose significant economic threats to the livelihood of beekeepers. 


iBuzzHive is a 3-D printed wooden beehive that has sensors and high definition video camera with an app for remote monitoring of bee health and growth of colonies. Urban beekepers can monitor their bee colonies using IoT technology in a non-invasive way.


Using wifi, the BuzzCloud App monitors tells surrounding temperature, humidity,  number of bees in colony and other data to show the overall condition of the hive’s health.


This technology would be great for the resurgence of interest in urban beekeeping.





  • beekeepers especially urban beekeepers
  • interested government organizations such as US Department of Agriculture and Apiary Inspector of America
  • interested non-profit organizations such as Bee Informed Partnership
  • investors and general public who can help with funding
  • agriculturists who depend on pollination for food production


  1. This technology is at its early stage. BuzzCloud project team will turn to crowdfunding to launch the product once the prices and specs have been nailed down
  2. After launching, mass production of iBuzzHive and App would lower the cost and make excellent value for investor .
  3. Next steps include re-assessment of the effectiveness of this technology and its impact to the beekeeping industry.