Yesterday, 25 November 2020, the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, officiated at the Wings Ceremony of recently qualified drone pilots attached to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA).

The WCDoA assisted the group consisting of students, interns and officials to successfully sit for the South African Civil Aviation Authority examination to obtain their Remote Pilot License (RPL).

Training was provided by Drone-X, a Civil Aviation Authority approved drone training school.

Speaking at the Wings Ceremony Minister Meyer congratulated the newly qualified drone pilots on their achievement and for embracing the 4th Industrial revolution (4th IR).

Meyer: “I am extremely proud of the candidates who have completed their RPL’s. Today’s Wings Ceremony flows from the deliberate decision taken by the WCDoA to embrace the 4th IR and the use of associated technologies.”

Minister Meyer highlights that the use of drone technology will play an increasing role in optimizing agriculture operations, increasing animal and crop production as well as monitoring crop and soil health.

“An increase in productivity will increase the power of our agricultural economy, contribute to economic growth and create greater food security,” said Meyer.

Meyer continues: “The use of 4th IR technologies such as drones provides a range of farming solutions. These include remote measurement of soil conditions, better water management and livestock and crop monitoring.”

Geographical Information Systems Technician, Liezl Mackenzie, who intends using her newly acquired skill to enhance her area of expertise, agrees with Meyer.

Mackenzie: “I am very excited.  I intend using drone technology for data collection; ortho mosaic, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps, elevation models and data collection for the spray drone.”

B. Agri student, Teneale Marthinus expressed her gratitude for the investment in her development by the WCDoA.

Marthinus: “I appreciate what the WCDOA has done for me. This investment prepares me to make a difference in agriculture by revolutionizing my approach to whatever area of interest I may choose to focus on.

Another B. Agri student, Barend Smit intends focusing on data collection and research.

Smit: “I will be using my RPL for NDVI mapping of vineyards, citrus and other cash crops to determine their plant health. It is vital to determine plant health to maximize productivity and for the early detection of disease and plant stress.”

Thurmarr van Wyk believes that his RPL will assist farmers to monitor crop & livestock conditions by air.

Van Wyk: “This RPL will allow me to help farmers with a wide variety of applications, such as scouting out new field location, providing quick & easy ways to check small sections of crops and surveying entire fields remotely.”

“Growing the economy and creating jobs is a priority for the Western Cape Government. Drone technology creates exciting new career opportunities and its applications will contribute to growing the agricultural economy and establishing new jobs within the Sector.” concluded Meyer.

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