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News Link • European Union

Spying on Europe’s farms with satellites and drones

•, By Laurence Peter

Imagine a perfect walk in the country, a few years from now - tranquillity, clean air, birdsong in the trees and hedgerows, growing crops swaying in the breeze.

Suddenly a model plane swoops overhead.

But there is no-one around manipulating radio controls. This is not a toy, but a drone on a photographic mission.

Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres up in space, the same patch of land is being photographed by a satellite, which clearly pinpoints individual trees and animals.

What is there to spy on here? No secret military installations, just farmland. 

But Europe's farms cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies each year, and EU agricultural inspectors are turning to technology to improve their patchy record on preventing fraud and waste.

Satellites have already been in use for several years, and drones are currently undergoing trials.

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