Startup Stories: Picture Analysis Using Drones
Smart farming and precision agriculture are more than buzzwords, but technological trends that impact nearly every aspect of agriculture. Alberto Burgos de la Torre worked in agriculture for 16 years and decided to commit to making methods more sustainable by offering drone technologies for image processing.
On Smart Flight
Please introduce yourself briefly. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is José Alberto Burgos de la Torre, I’m a Technical Agricultural Engineer. I run a technical office of an Andalusia-based wholesale company in the distribution of fertilizers and phytosanitary products with over 4 generations of antiquity, specializing in the cultivation of olive groves. I’m an assistant technician in an integrated production association, whose creation I promoted and which counts more than 600 associates and over 5000 ha of crops, under its management. Also, I co-founded and run a company based on the use of Drone technology to perform agricultural and forestry remote sensing techniques, with the sole purpose of providing our customers with good precision, agricultural practices.
What moved you to use drone technology air services in the agricultural sector? How did this project develop?
I’ve worked in the agricultural sector for the last 16 years, and, since the beginning, I’ve always advocated good agricultural practices that allow top production, with the highest food quality and safety for consumers, the most profitable practice for agriculturists, and the protection of sustainability of the environment for the generations to come. This mindset is what constantly makes me stand on guard, work, improve and develop all kinds of projects that facilitate reaching these goals. This is how SMART FLIGHT was born, from my hand and that of the magnificent professionals that surround me.
What was your biggest professional challenge or success so far?
So far, I could say that presiding this project and being a pioneer in my region by offering this type of technological service have been the greatest professional and career challenge, and pretty soon we will also call it a success. We’re not only doing professional work with our services to agriculturists, but also, we’re training them to be better businessmen.
What is the unique appeal of the company you lead? How do you isolate yourself from competitors of your industry?
We go one step ahead because we provide a complete, expert, and specialized solution. Since we’re focused on agriculture and the environment, we count on the needed professionals to guarantee a good job on the field and in the office, offering an integral solution to the management of the plots of our clients, whatever the problem. From planting to harvesting and sales of the crops.
To what extent do you interact across the world and how important are the international markets for your company?
We have relationships with many multinationals that provide fertilizers, chemical products and seeds, as well as with agriculturists and consulting firms from Spain, but also from South American and North African countries that are interested in our services. But for the time being, we’re focused on Spain and specifically in our region; a good expansion plan, we grasp, requires a well-established business in its location of origin.
Why is now the time to start work in the agtech sector?
The primary sector is the base for everything, so the time for it is not just now, it’s always been the time. Unfortunately, it’s where technology has lagged the most and where stinginess in production has always prevailed without taking into account some other essential aspects that allow a balanced sector. Climate change, just as the health of the most developed countries, are changing the way we produce food.
On AgTech in General
How do you perceive the current labor market situation of the Agtech industry in general, and how does it modify the demand for employees in your company at the moment?
The Agtech sector is going through a sweet phase, so we have ahead of us years of intense development and growth for the sector’s professionals. In our company, we expect this development will triple the number of current employees in the next 5 to 10 years.
How will drone technology applied in agriculture evolve in the coming years?
The sensor miniaturization, process automation and airspace regulation, will facilitate the implementation of this technology making it simpler, safer and affordable for agriculturists.
What problems are solved with the use of drones in the agricultural sector?
The drone technology allows us to remotely detect the situation in which vegetable are in their different growing stages; making it possible, with several technical aspects and solutions, to determine, not just the water needs of the crops, but also their risks of being affected by pests and diseases. This way, we can also estimate production, best recollection times, floodplains in the plot that might need to be drained, and many more.
Job Opportunities in AgTech
What can your company offer that other employers cannot?
Job security: we take care of our professionals, they’re the capital of our company and we know it. A family atmosphere and companionship. We are a great family.
How important are foreign experience and international communications skills to you in Agtech?
Knowledge won’t get us short of space. I think it is essential to know and analyze what others are doing to check if it works, not to copy it, but to improve it and offer it to our customers. We live in a global world, and we work towards the welfare of the world and the people in it; that’s why we have to share our knowledge that might be useful for others.
What career opportunities are currently given in the Agtech sector and how will these change in your opinion?
As I said before, this is a growing sector that will undergo major growth in the coming years due to the introduction to the field of new generations, simplified technology and the benefits that come with it.
Which basic qualifications should an employee fulfil to get employed at your company? What are basic requirements to getting started?
The standard profile we ask from our professionals is one of a committed, communicative and creative person with a great capacity to work. I mean, someone who adapts well in the development of diverse tasks (multi-disciplinary), competitive and a teamplayer.
Thank you very much for this interview!
SMART FLIGHT, S.L.