Many cotton farmers in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have started using drones to spray defoliant in farms as the process is faster and consumes much less water than tractors do. Agri-tech firms like XAG, one of the first to introduce drones there in 2016, are assisting farmers in getting acquainted with the benefits of using drones.
Cotton is harvested in October in Xinjiang, the most important cotton-producing region in China with over 2.5 mn hectares of cotton fields. Use of drones costs less than renting tractors and these use less chemicals as well, farmers say. Tractors generally end up damaging around 8 per cent of cotton and also harm the soil.
Statistics of XAG alone show more than 4,500 drones of the company have helped local farmers defoliate 866,666 hectares of cotton this year, according to a report. The regional agriculture and husbandry machinery administration said that by the end of this year, the number of farm-oriented unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Xinjiang is expected to exceed 5,000.