A South African tech start-up is tapping into the crop-protection industry, using drone technology to help farmers zero in on pests and other disease-related problems affecting their crops. Aerobotics, a company founded by CEO James Paterson and chief technology officer Benjamin Meltzer in 2014, has grown from a home-based business to a company operating in 13 countries, where it offers its drone service to the vine and fruit & nut sectors, estimated to be worth $50bn (R707bn) a year. Flying 60m to 80m above a field, the drone uses technology similar to facial recognition to identify pests and diseases on vines and trees. It then alerts the farmer. Paterson and Meltzer started the company at Paterson's childhood home in Stellenbosch. "I'm an aeronautical engineer, so I love drones. I've been building drones for many years," said Paterson, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Initially the commercial drones that we were using [bought from drone manufacturers] wer...

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