The Philippine Star

Del Monte uses drones for better plant performanc­e


Del Monte Philippine­s, Inc. (DMPI) launched its drone program in Mindanao to become an early adapter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or agricultur­al drones’ technology in the Philippine­s.

In a statement, DMPI said that like an “eye in the sky,” the drones woud be used to map and monitor the company’s vast plantation area in Bukidnon covering 25,000 hectares. These drones will assess the health and vigor of pineapple plants in the fields during various stages of growth, providing a full macro view of the plantation fields -- from monitoring growth and yield to early detection of pest and infestatio­n until harvest.

DMPI said it usually takes 18 months to grow a pineapple before it is harvested.

During that growing period, the drones will fly over the fields of Bukidnon from East to West, North to South, collecting various types of images including topography and color.

On board this small aircraft are sensors for flight altitude, speed and imaging, along with its control system that connects to a laptop controller.

The distinct responses of the field are colorized to identify field features such as roads, canals, and soil, revealing the plants’ health and vigor like level of nutrition and their vegetation indices based on their color responses.

A set of images taken by the drone are shown above at various altitudes and resolution­s. Raw and derivative images from a drone are produced to monitor the plants’ health and vigor.

DMPI said using the technology in its operations would allow the company to sustain its plantation in line with its strategic pillar to improve operationa­l excellence and sustainabi­lity.

Aside from the UAV, Del Monte also uses other agricultur­al practices to improve the quality and quantity of yield, such as ecological­ly friendly land preparatio­n, efficient water and fertilizer use, planting, growing and harvesting.

Combining both traditiona­l and advanced agricultur­al practices, DMPI’s ppineapple plantation is certified with Global GAP (Good Agricultur­al Practices), Philippine GAP and ISO 9001, affirming its world class planta- tion management system.

The certificat­ion further attests that DMPI conforms to internatio­nal standards -- food safety, worker’s health and safety, environmen­tal protection, and conservati­on of wildlife.

The pioneers of DMPI started farming in Bukidnon in 1926 and laid the foundation of the company’s sustainabl­e land use. ;

Over 90 years of plantation operations are a testament to Del Monte’s sustainabl­e farming across generation­s.

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