Advanced Drone Technology for Pest and Disease (P&D) Spraying

Long endurance drone and under-tree-canopy navigation technologies

Sime Darby Plantation Berhad are looking for innovations/experts who can help us to improve P&D spraying application using drones.

Application Deadline
July 31st, 2021
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Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) is the largest listed Palm Oil plantation company with a global operation across 16 countries and the world’s largest producer of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

SDP is involved in the full spectrum of the palm oil value chain including 780,000 hectares (ha) of landbank across Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands (SI). In the Downstream sector, Sime Darby Oils’ business philosophy in the manufacturing of a comprehensive range of sustainable palm oil based products is to maintain the highest quality at all times.

Committed to operational excellence, innovation and sustainability, SDP is focusing on initiatives to improve every aspect of our value chain; from developing quality planting materials and environmental-friendly fertilisers to enhancing the systems and processes in cultivating, harvesting and milling, to manufacturing not only high quality but also traceable refined palm oil and palm kernel products. 

Oil palm estate operation has always depended on manual labour in many aspects of its operations. SDP is currently strengthening its operational excellence with strategies such as automation, mechanisation and digitalisation. SDP have also invested in digital innovations mainly to automate various processes, mechanisation and data analytics. The objective is to further improve efficiencies, productivity and cost saving while enhancing output for better value and to be able to increase production without further deforestation.

Click here to learn more about Sime Darby Plantation.


Sime Darby Plantation Berhad is looking for innovative ideas/experts who can help us mechanise and automate operations for oil palm plantations. We have started embarking on the mechanisation of our estate operations with the collection and evacuation of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) from the field to the palm oil mill. One of the focus areas for mechanisation and automation is the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for pest and disease (P&D) chemical spraying. Currently, we are still heavily reliant on manual labour to conduct P&D spraying for both immature and mature oil palm fields. This task requires up to 6 sprayers at one time depending on the land area of the immature oil palm field. Furthermore, we are faced with an acute shortage of foreign labour supply due to border closures since the COVID-19 global pandemic.

We are always exploring ways to push the boundaries of UAV technology even further by improving flight time and payload capacity, while maintaining a practical design for operational-use. These include hybrid-powered drones and industrial drones with longer-lasting batteries, which can help to further increase our current productivity.

While our estates are located all over Malaysia, many are situated in remote areas without or with limited network connectivity. As most of the operational tasks at oil palm plantations need to be conducted below the tree canopy, we expect these drones to navigate similarly in these challenging environments. For this, we are looking at technologies such as LiDAR, stereo or depth camera. The technology must be cost-effective and modular to fit commercially available drones.

Hence, we are interested in the solutions related to the key areas of: -

  1. Long-endurance drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology with longer flight time (up to 1 hour)
  2. Under-tree-canopy navigation with LiDAR, stereo/depth camera or other similar technology

The solution must aim to satisfy the criteria below:

  • Reduce labour dependency
  • Improve P&D spraying productivity
  • Adhere to safety guidelines

SDP will share more information to the interested organizations and companies.

What's in it for you?

A successful collaboration could mean, forming a potential partnership with Sime Darby Plantation to co-develop the idea and its path to implementing solutions.

These are global challenges and Sime Darby Plantation is willing to collaborate with industry participants, start-ups and universities and solutions can be at any stage of development, preferably at working prototype stage.

If you have or are developing solutions, or if you have expertise in the above, please click "Apply" to submit your solution/expertise to the Network.