Drone Spraying Takes Off
In just a few years, there has been a huge rise in the use of drones in agriculture. Their popularity is set to soar globally, as countries grant operators permission to also apply crop protection products, writes Mick Roberts in an article published by Future Farming. It makes sense to use drones for spray applications – they can operate over sodden fields and tall crops where no machine could normally move, fly quickly to exact locations to treat target areas precisely, as well as be pre-programmed to navigate their own way around.
Recent equipment introductions, and regulation changes in particular, look likely to see aerial applications by UAVs to increase substantially and quickly around the globe, writes Roberts.
In the USA sales are set to rise by a third in a year – probably thanks to new regulations that now permit drone applications. And, with John Deere showing its new VoloDrone at the Agritechnica Show in 2019, drone spraying seems to be moving into the mainstream.
In countries with advanced agriculture, aerial spraying by drone completes the precision farming virtuous circle. This begins with remote crop scouting targeting treatment areas that are followed by applications on a pre-programmed route. And this, can not only be achieved remotely, but also truly autonomously.
At the same time, drones improve application timelines, reduce the need for skilled labor and cut hand-held sprayer operators’ exposure to harmful pesticides.
The restrictions on use and strictness of regulations regarding spraying from drones vary around the world, according to the type of farming and whether countries have advanced or developing agriculture. In all EU member states, for example, aerial spray applications, including drones, are completely banned.
Drone spraying has taken off quickly across the globe, and independent research is struggling to catch up with what’s happening in terms of the application efficacy, coverage, deposition and, particularly, drift, Roberts concludes.