Drones, or UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), are being increasingly used worldwide for many different applications, from monitoring agricultural productivity to taking amazing pictures from the air! However, they are becoming more and more vital for minimising the detrimental impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

It has been reported this week that the United Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture are deploying drones in the Philippines to assess the farmlands most at risk from the current El Nino. Some 25 experts are leading the research which aims to acquire imagery detailing vegetation health as well as areas potentially at risk from flooding and even drought.


These drones can image over 600 hectares each day, which is considerably less than satellite imagery, though with much greater detail and the ability to capture and analyse this information in a much faster yet cheaper way. It is hoped that its efficiency and reliability should contribute to disaster risk reduction, by identifying where intervention measures should be delivered to help local farmers reduce their risk to disasters. The obtained maps can also help to map sanitation facilities and infrastructural projects of interest which need to be protected in the event of a natural disasters.

It is estimated that in 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated more than 600,000 hectares of farmland, causing more than US$700m in agricultural damage alone. The role of the drones are critical to preventing this happening again. Damage to food production does not only affects a farmer’s income, but affects their lives in a far greater way, as this is often the food they depend on.

Even following a natural disaster, the drones can help identify the affected areas much faster than satellite imagery (as cloud cover can sometimes be an issue), ensuring resources are delivered to the affected areas which need them most.

For more information, please visit: Food Navigator.

Image Credit: Kagay-An.

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