DJI Pilot Story

The Great Female DJI Drone Operators

In the vast farmlands of China, there are many women working hard. Tender, sensitive, and brave, they prefer remote controls to high heels. They are the operators of agricultural drones.


At 5:00, Dong Yanli, a drone operator from Xuwen, Guangdong, started her workday at the first glimmer of dawn despite the chill in the air. With preparations done before dawn, the sleeping farmland was woken up as the remote control sounded "Flight Start".



33-year-old Dong Yanli is an experienced drone-based aerial application practitioner. Starting with a DJI MG-1, Dong Yanli has worked together with her husband. They spray pesticides on rice in Jiangmen and in Anhui Province in the Spring and Summer, and on betelnut trees in Hainan Province in the Winter. At the beginning, she was responsible for ground service and her husband for field surveys and flights - good teamwork.



But in 2018, Dong Yanli's husband was unable to go out with her for health reasons, so she had to perform the aerial application operations alone the whole year. Though she only knew how to get the drone to fly, she had no other choice but to learn everything herself through constant practice and exploration, and improve her aerial application skills significantly. "I think women are more suitable to fly drones." Dong Yanli said frankly.



"I'm very demanding of myself - maybe it’s kind of OCD - for example, I will spray pesticides on the plot borders if they are not covered when the drone is reloaded." Although not very skilled in her first year of independent operation, she was soon recognized by the farmers for her carefulness. Dong Yanli soon established her reputation through hard work and quality of service. "I count on you to spray pesticides on my fields," many regular customers tell Dong Yanli. "It's quite an accomplishment," Dong Yanli says proudly.


Dong Yanli has sprayed 5,200 hectares of fields by now, and earns a satisfiction annual income. "This is much higher than our income when we worked for others," Dong Yanli says.



Complex areca plantation tests aerial application skills


Due to high and dense trees and complex mountainous terrain, it is difficult to find open spaces for drones to take off and land in the areca plantation, which poses great challenge for the operators. "We can’t just spray the pesticides. We must accurately spray the pesticides into the center of the tree crown in order to kill the pests there, so we need to climb the mountain together with the drone."



With their superb skills, Dong Yanli and her husband can cover 4,000 ~ 5,000 betelnut trees in a day. "This benefits from the T20's large tank, which allows high efficiency and speed." Due to the special requirements of the aerial application operation on betelnut trees, the price is high. Dong Yanli and her husband usually provide the aerial application service at the price of 100 yuan/tank, with an average profit of 4,000 yuan a day, which is very impressive!



"New tool increases cotton yield"


In another part of China, Wang Dan from Xinjiang’s Shawan County, is also connected with the aerial application. Last year, Wang Dan could not find enough part-time workers for her 34 hectares of cotton field due to the impact of the epidemic, which made her worried. "It was the working season, but we could not get out to find someone to help us. So we decided to purchase two T20 drones."



Wang Dan says that almost every family in Shawan County has agriculture drones, and she made up her mind to become a drone operator due to the impact of the epidemic. Wang Dan used to be a lactational masseuse, but she says that she can earn much more than before and is more free. 


Wang Dan practices in the snow


There are about 1.87 million hectares of cotton fields in Xinjiang, with the cotton yield accounting for 74% of China’s total. Wang Dan says it used to take 2 days to complete topping her 34 hectares of cotton with tractors, while another day was required for preliminary preparations, but now with drones, it takes only 3 hours. What's more, topping with drones can save 600~750 yuan per hectare when compared with manual topping, which increases income by 4,500~6,000 yuan per hectare. Also, thanks to the drones, Wang Dan's family's cotton yield reached 7,950 kg/hectare, while the yield was only about 6,900 kg/hectare with manual work.



In the past, there were few female operators in the drone aerial application sector due to the harsh environment and complex technology. In recent years, as DJI Agriculture continues to promote technological innovation R&D, agriculture drones have become an intelligent productivity tool that are easier and more convenient to use. Emerging female operators like Dong Yanli and Wang Dan have become part of a beautiful scene in the aerial application sector.


Looking at the farmland and talking about the future, Dong Yanli from Guangdong and Wang Dan from Xinjiang have glints of hope in their eyes. "Women are more suitable drone operators" and "This is a very promising industry". They have injected a gentle but solid energy into Chinese agriculture.


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