Farming Stories project: Drones for Smallholder Farmers

Drones in Agriculture

One million Latin American farmers depend on rice for their diet, employment and income. 80 percent of those are smallholders who cultivate rice manually and farm fewer than 3 hectares. They face many challenges, including increasing the productivity of their farmland and the efficiency of agricultural inputs while ensuring the responsible use of crop protection products. Could the use of drones to spray crop protection products be an innovative solution to these challenges?



Rice farmers in Ecuador and Colombia would benefit from higher efficiency in crop inputs, reduced costs and minimized exposure to crop protection products, all of which would be feasible if drones were used to treat their crops. However, there are insufficient guidelines and only a limited understanding of how smallholder farmers would benefit from this technology.



BASF set out to answer these questions in a feasibility study. During field days or on demo-plots, farmers and partners tested the application of crop protection products with drones and were trained on responsible use of crop protection products – feedback was positive as the precision, efficiency, and safety of drone technology were consistently highlighted. In visits to local schools, the partners promoted safety awareness for children.

To date, we have also introduced drone-compatible formulations and undertaken collaborations with local drone service partners to support smallholder rice farmers. We are running field tests to prove the correct performance and safe use of BASF crop protection solutions. Beside this, we are currently working to develop novel business models to facilitate access by smallholder farmers.



(up to) 90%less water consumed in CPP application


(up to) 10%lower production costs


Children trained on safety awarness


Farmers trained on application technology


Farmers trained on responsible use of crop inputs


SDG 1 – No Poverty

Evaluation of new technology that could contribute to more efficient and sustainable production of rice, banana and corn in Ecuador and Colombia.

SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Promoting the responsible use of crop protection products and the importance of personal protective equipment.

SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Promoting precision agriculture for small-scale farm units through a new business model for application of crop inputs.

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals

BASF partnered with Ecuaquimica, dji, dronesur, and InnovAgro (CropLife Latin America).