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UAVs make pepper picking piece of cake | Updated:2017-09-14

Every year from late August to early September, farmers in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region begin to harvest red peppers and cotton. Due to the thick leaves on the crops, picking the peppers and cotton is no easy task.

To solve this issue, this year more than 1,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were used to spray defoliant across the 133,000-hectare plantation, softening the leaves and making the crops easier to pick.

The UAVs were designed by Guangzhou-based Xaircraft. Founded in 2007, Xaircraft is one of the world's leading companies for UAV and Flight Control Systems design, development and manufacturing.

Its P20 Agricultural UAVs feature an advanced satellite-based positioning technology called Real Time Kinematic (RTK). They are able to spray defoliant over more than five hectares of crops per hour, which is 20 times the speed of manual operation.  

The high-speed spray-head on the UAV can atomize the defoliant into particles smaller than 100 microns. It contains dozens of patents, according to Gong Jiaqin, co-founder of Xaircraft, who claimed that his company invests millions of dollars in agricultural UAV research and development.


UAVs developed by Guangzhou-based Xaircraft spray defoliant on plants in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/] 

At the beginning of this year, Xaircraft made its first step towards becoming an international enterprise by establishing a subsidiary company in Japan. In the near future, Xaircraft plans to expand its international business by entering the markets of countries including Australia and the US, according to Gong.

Since its inception in 2007, Xaircraft has made many significant breakthroughs in both the commercial and agricultural UAV sectors, obtaining numerous technological patents through years of effort. Gong attributed most of these accomplishments to Guangzhou which provides more than 1,400 talents for his company. 

"Talents are vital to technology companies like us as the research and development of UAVs involves many high-tech fields such as telecommunication and material science," Gong said, adding that Guangzhou boasts 30 universities and 56 scientific research institutions.

Gong also noted that the city which is located in the Pearl River Delta offers a whole industrial chain for the UAV industry and has policies to support agricultural technology development.


Japanese customers show great interest in the P20 Agricultural UAV developed by Xaircraft at a product launch event held in Tokyo in July. [Photo provided to]


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