IONOS: Smart farming “revolution” with agricultural drones at the forefront

With the primary sector moving rapidly towards the third agricultural revolution, smart farming technologies are expected to act as a catalyst for the development of modern producers

Although the long history of drones dates back to the beginning of the 20th century during the First World War, it is only in recent years that an “explosion” has been recorded both in the popularity between businesses and citizens, as well as in the applications they find in a large number of different industries, serving more and more aspects of our daily lives.Of particular interest is the area of the primary sector, which lately “embraces” more and more of the so-called new technologies. Towards this direction moves the Cretan IONOS, which designs and develops agricultural drones revolutionizing the domestic industry of agritech.

“Mastermind” of IONOS is the founder and managing director Stelios Christodoulou. Being himself a multifaceted man with a love for entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and with long experience, he transferred, from the first moment, these values to the Startup, wanting to change the game in the Greek agricultural sector. The Startup based in Heraklion, Crete and a member of Elevate Greece began its course in February 2019. The company offers research and experimental development services in agricultural sciences with a focus on drones, at a time when smart farming is gaining more and more applications in the primary sector of Europe. An estimated 150,000 drones by 2035 are to be used on all farms in Europe.

In particular, IONOS trades agricultural drones and develops parts of them focusing on their safe and effective use in precision spraying businesses, the detection of diseases and pests as well as the training of operators according to the needs of each crop. The vision of Stelios Christodoulou’s company is to give the people of the primary sector a useful tool against the background of the sustainable and economically safe transition to organic farming practices. The safe and effective use of agricultural drones with innovative training practices, research, the development of new cultivation methods and standards is the means to realize the vision. More specifically, IONOS products are addressed to a wide range of professionals. Agricultural and livestock enterprises, agricultural cooperatives, agronomists, agricultural shops, universities and research institutes are just some of the sectors that can benefit greatly from the agri drones and services available to IONOS.

Having in its potential a team with extensive experience in arboreal and arable crops with hundreds of flight hours, IONOS technologies offer multiple benefits not only to Greek producers but also to farmers from other countries, as the company operates in areas beyond the Greek borders.The specialized team has important personalities of various specialties: technicians, pilots-drone instructors, agronomists, occupational and environmental specialists, financial and legal advisors. The variety in the areas of expertise of the IONOS team has played an important role in the success of the project launched by Stelios Christodoulou, a fact that is also reflected by the company’s partners. Gowan, Robotopia and Refarmo, TTAviation, ELANKO and Bio-insecta are only a few of IONOS’ partners, as well as recognized universities in Greece and Great Britain.

In terms of innovation, IONOS has expanded well beyond the “traditional” crop review process by implementing a wide variety of gaseous tasks in agriculture, such as spot spraying on tree crops.Among other things, it offers the pioneering pilot projects EXARCHOS 2020 and EXARCHOS 2021, as well as the IONEL project. The first two programs concern bait applications with Unmanned Aircraft Systems in selected olive groves, while the IONEL Project focuses on rice cultivation needs.

Last year IONOS also participated in the ActPhast 4.0 innovation programme in collaboration with Forth Institute and the University of Southampton. IONOS is an integral member of the European Drone School, a European network of academies based in Brussels, with its team being responsible for the training of the agricultural drone network.

In addition, through the technology developed by IONOS, it contributes decisively to the protection of the natural environment by reducing the use of pesticides and natural resources such as water. Among other things, it is worth noting that IONOS’ strategy is not limited exclusively to the commercial distribution of drones.

Given that the primary sector is moving rapidly towards the third agricultural revolution, smart farming technologies are expected to act as a catalyst for the development of modern productions. This “fight” will be led by the agritech industry and the companies that have technology as an ally, as the Startup from Crete has proven.

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