Drone pilot’s book an easier view to farming
An East London environmental scientist – who was one of the first women in South Africa to become a licensed drone pilot – has written a pioneering book about how drones can help farmers.
As the daughter of a Royal Air Force aeronautical engineer, UK-born Louise Jupp, 52, has flying in her blood.
Jupp, who is a director of environmental management consultancy Terreco Environmental in East London, became interested in flying at a young age.
“But I was too short,” she said sheepishly.
It took Jupp 10 months to write Precision Farming from Above, which, for her, will not only make crop management easier for farmers, but will also shift mindsets.
“I love gadgets but I also wanted to bust the myth that drones are for spying or for taking pretty pictures,” she said.
In her book, which will be available on Amazon and Kindle later this month, Jupp writes about how the use of drones in agriculture can provide farmers with early warning of crops under stress and can pinpoint exactly which ones are affected.
“Most farmers drive around the borders of their fields and if they see a plant in stress they spray the whole field, but a drone can fly over 60ha in 25 minutes and show exactly which plants have a problem, and the farmer can check them and then spray just those plants.”
This precision not only saves time, fuel and money, it also leads to more sustainable, eco-friendly farming, prompting Jupp and Scott to start Terreco Aviation to assist agriculture with drone technology.
“What really excites me is that I can solve a farmer’s problem and help him get a better yield with less effort, but it also means he will use less pesticide and other chemicals, as well as less water, which really appeals to me because I am an environmental scientist.”
Her dormant urge to fly was realised two years ago when she became one of the first eight women to obtain a remote pilot licence.
“When I first saw drones I wanted to fly one because I thought of using them to help with environmental impact assessment work.
“They give you a bird’s eye view, allowing you to deal with problems. Google Earth is fantastic, but it’s not up to date.”
The more she and her business partner Duncan Scott looked at the advantages of drones, the more they realised they could be used to benefit farming.
“Drones have been used in construction, infrastructure assessment and mining and are an amazing information tool.
“They are quicker than doing ground inspections.”
Earning her drone licence was a major achievement for Jupp, who explained that this country’s civil aviation authority treats drone flying in the same way as physical aviation.
“I have the same rules as a pilot. Should I fly drunk I would suffer the same consequences.
“I was very proud to get the licence. Although it is not the same as full flying, I feel like part of a group of women aviator pioneers.”