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Preserving and Supporting Local Farmland:
A Partnership with Nileworks' Agricultural Drones

  • Drone

Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan Co., Ltd.Manager of Production Department: Mr. Kazutaka Shimizu

Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture
Paddy rice, soybeans, wheat
Pest control and analysis

Publication year:2022

Article is translated and summarised from an interview between Nileworks and Mr. Kazutaka Shimizu, Manager of the Production Department at Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan Co., Ltd.

A vison of protecting and supporting local farmland

Farmland of Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan Co., Ltd.

Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan (Western Development Farming Corporation) was established in 1986, in key northern grain-producing region of Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture. The corporation was established as an agricultural production company dedicated to promoting local agriculture in Iwate in response to an increase in abandoned farmland due to retiring farmers. Since then the corporation has actively undertaken the responsibility of preserving local farmland. Starting with approximately 30 hectares of cultivated land at its inception, the corporation has expanded its cultivated area to over 960 hectares by 2021. However, many challenges persisted, as some of the land is difficult to farm due to factors such as abandonment and hilly/difficult terrain.

Done based pest control now becoming the norm

Rice paddy

To address these challenges and improve operational efficiency, Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan looked for alternative solution in Nileworks' agricultural drones. Previously, unmanned helicopters were used for pest control, however the difficulty of manual operations and its physical and mental toll on employees prompted exploring alternative solutions. In 2019, the decision was made to introduce Nileworks' agricultural drones for pest control. Focusing on farmland challenging for unmanned helicopters, such as urban areas, enclaves, small plots, and hilly terrain, the drones successfully conducted pest control for approximately 120 hectares of rice paddies (about 680 plots) and 40 hectares of soybeans (about 240 plots) with a two-drone, two-operator team over a total of nine days. In subsequent years, the corporation expanded pest control to around 230 hectares in 2020 and approximately 400 hectares in 2021, contributing to a reduction in the staff's workload.

Guaranteed work quality for both newcomers and women

Staff lined up

Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan, actively accept and train people who want to become farmers, so they were attracted to the ability to spray with high precision through fully automatic flight. They were impressed by the accuracy of the spraying via the drone, and the ability to avoid obstacle. The reduction in scattering of pesticides from the drone also proved to be extremely attractive to the company’s environmental goals. Currently, more than 10 staff members (including both men and women) fly Nileworks’ drones and perform spraying work with very similar quality for experienced operators and those newer to the system. Farming work has traditional been perceived as a man’s job due to the onerous physical labour involved, however with the introduction of drone, this perception has created an environment where women can thrive.

Endless possibilities of data and technology as part of strategy

Equipment of Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan Co., Ltd.

Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan has been promoting the use of ICT as part of its strategy, so they had high hopes for Nileworks' cutting-edge technology which they have not been disappointed with to date. They also look forward to further technological improvements, such as sensing-based crop growth tools, growth diagnosis, and management tools that can accommodate larger farmland and machinery. They are not afraid to be forthcoming about the benefits or drawbacks from any technologies they use. They believe that data and tools surpass the information and experience gained through human observation, as well as mundane and cumbersome management structures. They believe creating an environment where staff can farm with peace of mind and management that makes full use of data will lead to high-quality crop cultivation. In the future, Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan will continue to protect food, which is important for human survival.

Seibu Kaihatsu Nosan Co., Ltd.

Our goal is "Earth to Table." We strive to protect farmland, produce safe crops, and deliver a stable supply of food. Our business spans a wide range of fields, including the production of grains (paddy rice, soybeans, wheat, buckwheat noodles), vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, etc.), Kuroge Wagyu beef, and the management of directly managed stores on one of the nation's best managed farmlands, but from the point of sowing seeds. We do as much of the process as possible in-house, right up to the point where people eat it, and deliver safe, fresh, and delicious food.
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