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Walmart sees drones as key in the future of farming

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World Fertilizer,

According to Reuters, Walmart Inc.’s recent patent filings suggest that it sees a future in which farmers use drones to spot problems with crops, and apply chemicals or disperse pollen.

Last year, Reuters reports that the company applied for a total of six patents on drones that aim to prevent crop damage, control pest attacks on farms and cross-pollinate plants. This is according to documents from the US Patents and Trademark Office that were recently made public.

According to Reuters, groceries account for 56% of Walmart’s total revenue, and the company might look at drone technology as a new way to get food from farms to shops faster and more cheaply.

The news agency added that Walmart has previously applied for a patent involving drones that are capable of monitoring growing conditions for crops and then send the data to stores regarding arrival dates and the origin of the produce.

To date, Reuters claims that Walmart has applied for a total of 46 patents regarding drone technology. The majority of these are reportedly to facilitate the company’s logistics and delivery operations, as well as for use in warehouses (i.e. track inventory) according to CB Insights data.

According to Global Market Insights, the market for agricultural drones is expected to top US$1 billion by 2024. This is an increase from approximately US$338 million in 2016. The Chief Executive of Field of View – a US company selling drone camera systems – David Dvorak, however, says that Walmart’s patent applications are of particular note, as they suggest that the company sees potential in not only spotting problems on farms, but also addressing them.

Dvorak said: “It sounds like Walmart is trying to develop a complete system that can actually do something about it.”

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