Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TP
Dates orchard near Kibbutz settlement Niran in the Jordan Valley. Jordan Valley, Feb 23, 2020.

The future of agriculture and the date plantations in the Arava region and the Jordan Valley were at risk during the days of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which generated a shortage in labor, but Israeli drones came to the rescue and are efficiently pollinating them from the air.

Blue White Robotics (BWR), in collaboration with the New York-based Dropcopter, is providing an innovative solution for pollination of the date plantations in the Jordan Valley and the Arava using specially programmed drones.

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“Pollination solution through drones saves time, labor, and increases yields,” said Alon Ascher, BWR’s VP Business Development,

BWR described its innovation as a “global agricultural breakthrough” that addresses crop pollination concerns that are growing worldwide. The natural pollination process is done using bees, but the bee population is declining globally.

Manual pollination is typically done using low-efficiency fans attached to tractors.

Dropcopter developed an innovative pod to store and dispense pollen from the air, suitable for a wide range of drones.

BWR is deploying multiple pollination drones flying simultaneously with an operating system and a command and control center.

In recent months, an experiment was conducted to test palm pollination at the Arava R&D Research Institute. After the successful experiment, many growers contacted the company to request pollination in the Jordan Valley.

Furthermore, heavy rains over the winter have caused flooding in the Jordan Valley, presenting a significant challenge for growers and making it near impossible to do ground pollination in many areas. The aerial drone pollination solution enables growers to reduce the need for labor, save money, and pollinate hundreds of acres in a short time.

In Israel, date plantations total around 15,000 acres. Pollination is typically a four-week process and is performed from February through April.

Each tree is pollinated four times during the pollination period and usually requires manpower and time.

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