Drones could solve the agricultural labour shortage in rural communities

Labour shortages are increasingly devastating rural farms, especially in Japan. For a startup called Nileworks Inc, the solution lies in cutting-edge technology such as drones. For several months, this drone startup has been testing its latest tech in the northeast of Japan.

A drone named Nile-T18 is designed to analyse rice stalks and determine how much fertiliser or pesticide is needed. The drone can then apply fertiliser to rice fields in only 15 minutes – a task that would take farmers more than an hour to complete. Nileworks is currently negotiating with Japan’s authorities to allow farmers to operate their drones without a licence. “As we face a shortage of next-generation farmers, it’s our mission to come up with new ideas to raise productivity and farmers’ income through the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as drones,” says Isamu Sakakibara, a rice farmer and head of JA Miyagi Tome, a local agricultural cooperative.