This business strategist and his drones are growing more food and protecting the rainforest in Central America at the same time. Sergio Ballester has accomplished more in this first half of his career than many do in a lifetime. From 2006 to 2011 he attended Grenoble Graduate School of Business while simultaneously working as the general manager for his family business. He then became an entrepreneur in 2012, and has launched three different successful companies in the past five years. He manages 150 employees with operations in seven countries, speaks four languages, and is now on a mission to protect the environment and feed the growing global population.
Ballester’s most recent endeavor, Indigo Drones, improves crop yields and reduces the use of chemicals in agriculture. They are operating out of San Jose, Costa Rica and currently focus on pineapple and wheat crops.
“By 2020, The tropics will be growing 75% of the world's food supply. This is a demand the Central and South American farmers need help to meet. At present, they don’t even meet their average yield predictions.” according to Ballester.”The key areas for improvement are education on the impacts & long term cost of chemical dependent farming, also efficient land use practices and
The core of Indigo Drones’ business is five parts. First fly drones over crops or open furrows to collect baseline data. Two, manage date in the cloud to allow the client and the IndigoAI team to be connected anywhere in the world. Three, analyse the data (including: topography, weather, imagery, etc.) with IndigoAI software. Four, the highly detailed real time reports of the land and crop go to the client (via app or web). Five, data is continuously collected, correlated, and compared to past records and other lots to predict future crop results. All that boils down to the simple idea that if growers can understand what is going on with their crops better they can maximize efficiency for everything. Maximum efficiency means only spraying expensive fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc. exactly when it is necessary and most beneficial. Fewer chemical products used results in less cost to the farmer, better health for people and the environment. Win, win, win.
Indigo Drones has several key partners in their undertaking including: the University of Costa Rica, TEC, Founder Institute, BioQuim, MIT, and Precisionhawk. In 2016 Indigo Drones ran projects with the Ministry of Agriculture in Ecuador and Costa Rica, and several private clients. Over 1000 acres have been covered by a single drone pilot. For the coming year they have two large recurring client accounts, as well an exclusive partnership with drone manufacturer, DJI.com, that has the potential to cover all of Central America. The team at Indigo Drones are working to improve the planet and the future for all of us. It’s not an easy job but as Ballester always says, “It is impossible to beat someone that never gives up.” So that is the plan. Never give up.