The world’s largest consumer drone-maker, DJI Technology Co. Ltd., has teamed up with Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta AG to secure a foothold in China’s booming agricultural drone market. The deal aims to improve the technology of DJI’s drones by taking advantage of Syngenta’s expertise in spraying pesticides on crops, the companies announced Wednesday…Full Article: Caixin Global Apr 2018

Key Points

  • A joint DJI-Syngenta agricultural drone pilot program will first be launched in Heilongjiang Province before expanding into other provinces such as Anhui and Zhejiang.
  • DJI Technology has reportedly sold 7,500 agricultural drones in China, carving out a ~70% share of the market. The company is currently raising funds (USD 500 million to USD 1 billion) for its eventual IPO.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Chinese agricultural drone manufacturers include Shenzhen’s DJI Technology (founded in 2006), Guangzhou’s XAircraft (founded in 2007), and Guangxi Yunrui Sci-tech.
  • In March 2018, DJI Technology announced it was looking to raise USD 500 million in order to fund its initial public offering.
  • In September 2017, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced the country would invest CNY 1.5 billion (USD 200 million) on training farmers. As a result, farmers will be able to register online for local and web-based training lessons. These lessons will include teaching farmers how to operate agricultural drones. During the same month, a drone, developed by Shaanxi Zhuangke Agriculture Science and Technology Company, was used to collect data for 10 hectares of kiwifruit orchards in Yangling, Shaanxi Province.
  • In June 2017, DJI Technology and Dow AgroSciences signed a MoU relating to crop protection drones and technology. Specifically, both companies will conduct joint pesticide application experiments on rice crops in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Jiangxi.
  • In May 2017, China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) announced it would acquire 94.7% of Syngenta. In late May 2017, ChemChina announced that it had issued USD 20 billion worth of perpetual bonds and preference shares to finance the acquisition.
  • In April 2017, DJI Technology announced its RTK (real-time kinematic) version of MG-1S agricultural drone (launched in November 2016) would be launched sometime from April to June 2017 at a cost of CNY 23,000 [~USD 3,383] per unit. The RTK version utilizes farmland positioning and pesticide spraying applications with the support of services from Qianxun.
  • In January 2017, China’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture classified drones as agricultural machinery. As such, the use of agricultural drones will be subsidized in targeted pilot regions. At the time, under 2% of China’s 122 million hectares of arable land utilized agricultural drones.
  • From 2015 to 2016, according to China’s Ministry of Agriculture, the area of farmland sprayed by agricultural drones increased by a factor of 2.4 to 4.65 million acres.
  • From 2014 to 2016, according to the deputy director head of the Shenzhen UAV Industry Association, the number of crop-dusting drones in China rose from 500 to roughly 8,000. In 2017, this number is forecasted to reach 15,000.
  • In November 2016, DJI Technology launched an upgraded version of its MG-1 drone, the MG-1S. As of November 2016, DJI Technology has sold more than 2,500 Agras MG-1 agricultural drones and controls 70% of the Chinese agri-drone (farm) market. The company has more than 200 sales service offices in China. Its new MG-1S agricultural drone will be available in 2017 for CNY 42,000 (just over US$6,000) per unit.
  • In September 2016, Chinese media reported that agricultural drones were being used on 26,000 mu [~1,733 hectares] of land in Ningxia Hui Region.
  • In June 2016, approximately 4,890 Chinese farms owned agricultural drones.
  • In April 2016, the Vice President of DJI Technology stated that DJI would cooperate with various computer chip companies, but would also “keep a close eye on chip technology development.” As result, DJI was looking into using Chinese-produced computer chips.
  • In March 2016, DJI Technology announced they would train 10,000 people across China to operate agriculture-specific drones. Additionally, the Shenzhen-based company stated it would establish 100 after-sales service centers and offer subsidies (to ~10,000 people) boost the use of drones on farms.
  • As of early 2016, the market penetration of agricultural drones was 50% in the USA and Japan, but only 3% in China (~4,000 agricultural drones in use as of early 2016).
  • In November 2015, DJI launched its eight-rotor Agras MG-1, an agricultural UAV that can hold 10 liters (~2.6 gallons) of liquid (e.g. pesticides) and spray four hectares of farmland every hour.
  • In August 2015, California-based Intel (world’s largest PC chipmaker) invested US$60 million in Yuneec International, a Hong Kong-based drone manufacturer.
  • Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Shenzhen, southern China, DJI Technology is a leading Chinese manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

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