Drones Have Found Another Use: Pollination

The fact that the bee population is dwindling is fairly well-known. Many environmentalist groups have been campaigning to save the bee and to encourage people to buy bee products, such as honey and beeswax. Bees play an important role in ecology and are essential for the pollination process. Unfortunately, the widespread use of toxic pesticides in the 20th and 21st centuries has led to this beautiful creature gradually dying off and this then led farmers to a dilemma as their crops were no longer being pollinated naturally.

While there are ongoing campaigns to increase the bee population, farmers have been forced to look for an alternative way to pollinate their crops while the numbers of bees are still low. It now seems that they have found a rather unusual technological solution in the form of a drone as crops have now been pollinated for the first time using this gadget.

This happened at the Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard of LaFayette in New York. They commissioned Dropcopter to pollenate part of the orchard using a drone. This is the first time that apple trees have been pollinated by a drone. The owners of the orchard will not know how successful this process has been until harvest when they can assess if the section of the orchard that was pollinated by the drone yields more apples than other sections.

To pollinate the trees, the drone flew approximately eight feet above the orchard while spraying pollen. This was an experimental process aimed at finding whether the use of technology is a good replacement for the work done by bees if their population figures continue to drop. The purpose of this process seems a good one as it will allow farmers to continue producing food even if there are not enough bees for the pollination process. However, is it as good as it seems?

There are some experts who really believe that this is not a good solution to the problem and see it as a very short-term fix. In fact, they believe that it is merely covering up a problem rather than finding an effective solution.

The use of drones for pollination has been described as having a major cut and then sticking a band-aid on it. It might stop the bleeding in a small part of the cut, but it is doing nothing to help the cut as a whole.

The importance of bees to biodiversity cannot be underestimated and the work they do is essential. Approximately one-third of the food consumed by humans is dependents on pollination by bees and other insects. The work of bees contributes billions in cash to the world economy.

Although the main reason for the demise of this insect is the aggressive agricultural methods that are being practised in many parts of the world, urbanization is another cause. As more houses are being built, the natural habitats of bees is being removed. These are two issues that need addressing urgently to promote an increase in bee populations so that bees can continue with their good work. It is not just the farmers who are being encouraged to solve this problem as environmentalists are encouraging individuals to make their gardens bee friendly spaces.

There is also a general consensus amongst experts that the focus should not be on hoe to replace the work of bees with technology, but on how to protect the bees from the problems with toxic pesticides. They think it is more important to concentrate on the conservation of the bees first and then to look at how technology can support their work.

If the results at the orchard in New York are good and the trees that have been pollinated by the drones do yield a good harvest, then it would seem that the use of drones is a good solution for now. At the moment, it feels like people are trying to fix one symptom at a time of a systematic problem rather than looking at the causes of the problem and taking in the bigger picture. Until a way is found of resolving the root issue, drones and other technological devices can only really provide a quick fix for some of the related issues.


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