In cooperation with the Limburg Land- en Tuinbouwbond (LLTB), the province of Limburg will use drones in the fight against illegal hemp cultivation in the outside area. The province reports this on its website. As part of the “Green Gold” project, drone flights took place in recent weeks to inspect plots from the air for the presence of hemp. The inspection flights follow previous tests of drones in 2017. More

likely to tackle

Illegal hemp cultivation in fields of unsuspecting farmers has been a problem in the province of Limburg for years. For example, dairy farmer Thieu Bongers found an illegal weed plantation on one of his corn fields in 2009. And he was not alone: dozens of dairy farmers and arable farmers had to deal with illegal hemp cultivation on their plots, which led to the necessary annoyance and damage.

In the fight against illegal hemp cultivation, helicopters were initially used to inspect plots. Drones are now being used for this. “By using smart innovations, such as drones equipped with special cameras, can be done in a targeted and efficient way to detect hemp in corn fields”, explains Deputy Madeleine van Toorenburg (CDA) of Limburg.

According to Van Toorenburg, the chances of catching are increasing as a result of air surveillance: “The results, also from recent years, show that the detection from the air helps to make this form of hemp cultivation less and less attractive to criminals. The chances of packing have increased, because we can map out many areas in a short period of time and can clear them in a targeted manner.


the coming weeks, drones will be used to provide plots around the municipality of Maasgouw. So far, no hemp fields have been drawn between corn fields. According to those involved, this may be due to the deterrent effect of the hemp control project: participants in the project place an orange jerry can on a long pole in the corn field, so that criminals know that the plot is being monitored.

The flights are operated with a DJI M300 RTK, which is equipped with a zoom camera. Bongers is enthusiastic about the images that can be taken with this drone: “You can zoom in to the extent that you can see from the sky if hemp is standing in an open place or weeds like melgeese foot, for example. It is striking how accurate and sharp the images are.”

Earlier trial

Incidentally, it is not the first time that experiments are being carried out in Limburg with drones to detect illegal weed plantations. Already in 2017, the first ‘weed drones’ took to the air in that province. Direct reason then was the decision of the police to stop the precious helicopter patrols above the outside area. The trial was then even discussed in the House of Representatives: at the time the PVV found that the farmers should not pay for the costs of the drone flights themselves.

(cover photo: John Peters/LLTB)