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Tackle citrus market with accurate yield estimates

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

The latest technology for accurate citrus yield estimates is now available in South Africa. This has become possible after the Aerobotics crop yield estimate system was stringently tested by a group of top citrus growers in the USA. The system eliminates guesswork by enabling citrus exporters to gather accurate yield figures early in the season.

The Aerobotics crop yield technology utilises the latest knowledge of cyber space to provide farmers with a competitive advantage in the world market. The farmer gets crop yield estimates of the coming harvest in advance with up to 95% accuracy and enables the farmer to make informed decisions regarding the management of his orchards.


• Increased accuracy early in the season means you can save money and increase your income;

• You can determine your market and make informed decisions;

• You can utilise the resources of your farming enterprise optimally; and

• It lowers risk and costs, while increasing profitability.

How does this product improve your farm’s profit?

• With production figures which will already be available early in the season, the farmer knows exactly how much he is going to harvest and he can adjust his sales and improve his marketing strategy accordingly;

• It is conducive to purposeful farm management;

• Having access to this information, the farmer knows how to prune, fertilise and where his attention is required;

• It ensures a positive image in the market place; and

• It helps the farmer to avoid unnecessary costs and ineffective marketing.

How does it work?

A drone is flown over a predetermined section of the orchard and records a short video of the individual trees. The Aerobotics Artificial Intelligence Technology identifies the type of fruit and records the size and colour of the fruit. To make this information of use to the farmer, the Aerobotics team of agriculturalists has calculated a series of growth curves for the various citrus cultivars.

The technology then applies the colour and size of the fruit, as well as the historical statistics of previous harvests, to determine the present state of affairs. This includes the estimated crop that will be harvested, which section of the orchard will fare better than the rest, and even more applicable information.

Should the drones be used regularly over the orchard, the farmer can keep better track of the growth of his citrus fruit and pass this information on to packing plants, exporters and marketers. The farmer is also enabled to make a better decision regarding the level of fertilising and where it will be required.

Nearer to harvest time the farmer is also in a better position to decide when harvesting will take place by inspecting the size and colour of the fruit.

Project overview: How did Aerobotics go about delivering this technology to the farmer? The company undertook a number of trial runs in South Africa and the United States during the past six months, the purpose being to enable farmers, packers and marketers to make more informed decisions based on more accurate information.

General problems experienced with crop predictions, are that it holds high risks for everybody involved in citrus production. When harvest predictions are not accurate, it is not possible for farmers to plan accurately for the coming season.

Who is Aerobotics and exactly what do they do?

Aerobotics is a new agro-technology company situated in Cape Town. They assist orchard farmers to increase their harvests and eliminate the risk of pests and plagues. Aerobotics identify any problems in an orchard at an early stage and then informs the farmer so that he can act before the problem becomes serious and the infestation spreads. The technology makes use of artificial intelligence and high resolution aerial photography to enable the farmer to manage his orchards tree-by- tree.

For more information, contact, contact Victor van den Berg at or phone 076-625-9273 to participate in the yield estimates for the coming season.

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Chris Venter

Chris Venter to transition from AFGRI following successful re-positioning of the Group