College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Agriculture workshop examines drone use to boost harvests

Experts met recently in Africa to explore how drones and satellites may be able to help farmers make better use of their land.

A two-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya was attended by experts from the UK, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Attendees in discussions at the workshop

Remote sensing

Researchers discussed how remote sensing – such as using unmanned aircraft and satellites – could provide farmers with information about crop yields as well as greenhouse gas emissions from livestock grazing on their land.

This information could help farmers to make vital decisions that help them optimise the productivity of their resources, and so improve food security.

Identifying knowledge gaps

The workshop took place at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. It's aim was to identify knowledge gaps and barriers that may affect how remote sensing technology is implemented in farming.

Remote sensing technologies can help to better match agricultural systems to the natural resources available, optimise the scale and timing of inputs, and so reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food produced.

Professor Geoff SimmDirector of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh
Professor Geoff Simm

Collaborative work

The workshop was organised by the University of Edinburgh’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security in collaboration with colleagues from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Professor Geoff Simm led the workshop with support from Professor Alan Duncan and Peter Ballantyne, both of CGIAR.

Research questions raised at the event also paved the way for a new wave of collaborative work in the future.


Sub Saharan Africa faces pressing challenges in feeding its rapidly growing population sustainably over the next few decades – a challenge heightened because of climate change. Our workshop identified regional research and translation needs, strengthened existing partnerships and stimulated new ones to help address these challenges

Professor Geoff SimmDirector of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh

The event was funded by an Impact Acceleration Account award from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.