Allan GrayAt the touch of a button, a farmer downloads an application to their phone. They open the app, and with another touch of a button, they’ve just ordered drone imagery that will cut costs, reduce chemical waste and precisely spray only the acres necessary in the field.

While this may not be far in the future for the United States, Dr. Allan Gray, executive director of the Purdue University Center for Food and Agricultural Business, is experiencing first-hand how Brazil is revolutionizing the use of drones in agriculture and taking push-button technology to the next level.

Currently on research assignment in Brazil, Gray is studying the mechanisms used to align participants in more sustainable food and agriculture supply chains. Through his studies, Gray has gained countless insights and opportunities, including the chance to work with Coopercitrus, a full-service cooperative in Brazil on the leading-edge of the digitization of farming. Coopercitrus has experienced dramatic growth over the last few years with a cost-cutting focus centered around serving farmers through the use of technology.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, several perennial crops prevent farmers from driving machinery directly into fields to reach certain areas in need of attention. With advancements in technology in production agriculture, the traditional crop-dusting method poses unnecessary and costly impacts for farmers. Recognizing this issue, Coopercitrus has enlisted the help of drones to solve the problem.

For example, in a 5,000-acre sugarcane field, a drone is sent out to capture field images, measure weed pressure and analyze data. Discovering 300 acres in need of spraying, the drone then creates a flight pattern for an additional sprayer drone to follow. The sprayer drone reads the flight pattern and precisely sprays only the 300 acres deemed necessary, saving the farmer money and protecting the environment.

Coopercitrus is customer-focused and tech-savvy. They have made ordering drone imagery as simple as ordering a pizza. By downloading the cooperative’s app, farmers have drones prepared to manage the entirety of their crop at the tip of their fingers and are only charged for the acres that are treated. By having a clear focus on cutting costs for their own benefit and the farmer’s, the company has been able to rapidly produce cutting-edge technology to increase productivity, ease and success for its clients.

Has your agribusiness firm developed a clear focus on your farmer customer needs, and are you working at a pace to stay ahead of the curve?

Beyond the Blog

Dr. Allan Gray will return from Brazil in time to share more of his research, insights and findings at our Managing Talent to Win professional development program, Purdue Food and Agribusiness Executive Summit and other upcoming programs.