Water/Wastewater

  • Can Drones Help Crack Down on Bad Farming?

Can Drones Help Crack Down on Bad Farming?

Apr 05 2018 Read 2381 Times

A coalition of environmental charities and concerned parties has urged the government to employ drones in order to crack down on careless and irresponsible farming practices which contribute to soil run-off, floods and poor water quality.

The coalition argues that the Environment Agency currently suffers from significant under-funding and as a result is only able to monitor 0.5% of all farmland. By using drones, that percentage could be increased exponentially and the money saved in cleaning up flooded lakes and reservoirs would pay back the cost of the drones tenfold.

The voice of reason?

The report comes from a trio of environmental groups – the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Angling Trust and the Rivers Trust – along with support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). They argue that outdated methods of farming are to blame for poor soil quality and deteriorating levels of health in British rivers, which in turn contribute to floods.

Indeed, according to statistics provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the combined cost of soil degradation in England and Wales is believed to be around £1.2 billion every year. At the same time, the Environment Agency is woefully underfunded and therefore not able to adequately monitor farming practices across the country.

Drone trial yields positive results

A trial scheme utilising drones to survey farm lands in Herefordshire has been running for several years now and has shown positive results. The drone is remotely guided by a contour map and focuses on potato and maize crops, analysing fields to pinpoint the regions most likely to suffer soil degradation in periods of heavy precipitation.

This approach allows farmers to identify which areas require extra conservation efforts and tackle them accordingly. This could involve screening soil for unwanted contaminants, increasing pastureland to reduce the impact of hooves on compacted soil, planting grasses on the fringes of fields to absorb rain that runs away and employing minimum tillage, which dispenses with a traditional plough and therefore displaces less soil.

Carrot and stick

The authors have stated that they believe first-time offenders should be offered advice on how to adapt their farming practices, rather than be punished. However, if they are found to repeatedly transgress, they should be penalised and lose the privilege of farm grants. Those who practice environmentally-conscious methods, on the other hand, should be rewarded via a system of grants.

“The rules on protecting soil aren't being enforced,” explained Mark Lloyd of the Angling Trust, one of the co-authors of the report. “We need a baseline of regulation to stop bad farmers doing the wrong thing and to stop good farmers looking over the fence and seeing someone else get away with it.”

Reader comments

Do you like or dislike what you have read? Why not post a comment to tell others / the manufacturer and our Editor what you think. To leave comments please complete the form below. Providing the content is approved, your comment will be on screen in less than 24 hours. Leaving comments on product information and articles can assist with future editorial and article content. Post questions, thoughts or simply whether you like the content.

Post a Comment




Digital Edition

International Environmental Technology April 2019

April 2019

In This Edition Business News - New appointment to boost noise and vibration specialists - Restek and LECO collaborate in worldwide supply agreement - Evonik catalyst in the life support sy...

View all digital editions

Events

IFSE

Apr 25 2019 Bangkok, Thailand

64th ISA Analysis Division Symposium

May 05 2019 Galveston, TX, USA

Ozwater 2019

May 07 2019 Melbourne, Australia

ENVEX

May 15 2019 Seoul, South Korea

FlowExpo 2019

May 16 2019 Guangzhou, China

View all events