SHANGHAI, Zayed University, ZU, students research paper was awarded the first prize out of 400 different participations during the 2019 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability, ISCES 2019, which was held recently in Shanghai, China.

The project titled "Utilising Drones as a Green Technology for Smart Date Palm Tree Pollination: A Case Study Applied in UAE" was undertaken by the student Alyaa Al Remeithi and her group from the College of Natural and Health Sciences, CNHS, at the university.

This project - held in cooperation between ZU and the Innovation and Research Department of Falcon Eye Drones and International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (Dubai) - aims to save time, effort, cost, and potentially physical �biological health risks to workers, as well as to increase the productivity of dates in UAE.

Dr. Fares Al Howari, Dean of CNHS, said, "The project that won the first prize at Tonji University was a joint project with our Industrial supervisor Dr. Ali Batty from the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture and the utilised drone-powered solutions by Falcon Eye."

He noted that Robotic assistance in the artificial pollination process by using Drones has the potential to relieve and raise the efficiency of the arduous and expensive process of hand pollination, which continues in a variety of contexts. "The reason why this research is important to the UAE is that it is one of the 10-top dates producers in the world. UAE produces 533,701 metric tonnes annually. Moreover, the gene pool of palm trees is large in the UAE and composes about 120 date varieties," he added.

Dr. Yousef Nazzal, Professor and Chair of the Life and Environmental Sciences Department at ZU, who guided the students throughout the project, said, "By using this method, the production of dates would increase. Also, due to the scorching weather in the flowering seasons for palm trees, which coincidently meets the hottest period in the year, this method would make the work done while the farmers are controlling the drones from indoors. This idea would help the occupational health and their safety."

Alyaa Al Remethi, a senior student at the CNHS, said that they have retrofitted and operated three different drones during the testing phase of the experiment.

Source: Emirates News Agency