ABZ Innovation, a Hungary-based drone pioneer, is readying its technology for use in the UK that could help alleviate Britain’s farm labour shortage.
The drones have seen success in five countries in Europe, buoyed by their lower-cost, high-efficient means of spraying fields and orchards. The revolutionary technology allows farmers and growers to benefit from a reduced workload and an easier means of spraying hard-to-access areas.
Developed with the University of Gyor, these drones have been shown to use 90% less water than conventional spraying and up to 50% fewer chemicals through targeted, precise management.
In the UK, ABZ drones could be the solution for and farmers hit hard post-Brexit labour shortages. The National Farmers’ Union showed that £60m of fresh produce rotted in fields in 2022 because of a lack of workers.
“With the problems with the lack of workforce in crops and orchards in the UK, drones can provide a very cost-effective alternative,” ABZ chief executive Karoly Ludvigh says. “They also have the benefit of helping growers use significantly less water and chemicals.”
Ludvigh says the accuracy of spraying with ABZ drones – within 1.5m – can reduce input and water costs. He believes that global tensions, supply issues, weather and food shortages no longer make traditional methods practical.
“Proper soil and crop management has become paramount to really provide our plants with the kind of soil they require to withstand weather conditions as well as possible,” he says.
Meanwhile, ABZ’s drone technology is advancing.
“The pace of these changes has been amazingly fast and I think it will get even faster,” he says.
Can drones really become a staple in British agriculture? Many experts say farmers in the UK are some of the most willing to embrace the technology. New rules allowing drones to spray crops could lift British farming and massively boost production, helping to offset both energy costs and labour shortages.