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Boosting farming yields in Austria

At the centuries-old Nussböckgut vineyard in Upper Austria, Huawei has teamed up with drone service provider Dronetech to validate the potential of technology in agriculture. There, the technology detects small insects, monitors crop status, and predicts harvests.

With the world population steadily increasing, agriculture has never been important than it is now. And yet, fewer and fewer people are interested in farming, particularly in rich countries with fertile land.

Fortunately, agriculture is one of the economic sectors where technology can play a dramatic role. Deployed in fields, 5G and AI deliver not just a win-win, but a win-win-win-win solution:  higher agricultural output with less water, less pesticides, and fewer people involved.

A drone surveys Nussböckgut, a historical vineyard in Austria

At several smart farms throughout the world, sensors buried throughout agricultural fields constantly feed information to an AI that analyzes what is needed for optimum farm output. Similarly, 5G-connected drones collect information that provides actionable intelligence to farmer in real-time.

Networked drones are particularly important to smart agriculture. To provide real-time info about information on the fields, they are fitted with lightweight 5G CPEs that upload information to the cloud for instant analysis. Farmers can get information about their vast fields without having to go look in person. And they get this info in real time, not after the drone has landed and the information downloaded into a computer.

Drone fitted with high-resolution camera and 5G CPE

Does a part of the field near more pesticide? The AI lets the farmer know by quickly analyzing the high-resolution images collected by the drone. How about water?  Same story. With 5G, AI, and drones, farmers no longer need to apply inputs indiscriminately. The fields get exactly what they need, when and where they need it.

In Austria, the partnership with Dronetech helps to make the technology more effective and easier to take advantage of. One of the challenges of using 5G to communicate with drones is that 5G base stations are typically set up to maximize terrestrial connectivity rather than communication with airborne devices. This is one of the issues that the two companies are working to fix.

So far, the collaboration at Nussböckgut is confirming the key role that drones, 5G, and AI can play in agriculture. The success story emerging from Nussböckgut is one of the reasons Austria’s government is aiming to deliver 5G coverage country-wide by 2030.

Watch this video to see how tech is improving farming at the Nussböckgut vineyard