Drone technology in agriculture has moved rapidly though the technology hype sequence, from curiosity to irrational exuberance to overblown misfit. In reality, drones at first were a solution in search of a problem, and the recalibration and emerging rebirth is exactly what the drone industry has needed.
Currently, and to the best of our knowledge, there are three entities – consumer drone giant DJI’s Agras MG-1P not withstanding – that are driving spray drone research and development in row crop farming: ADAMA via its recently announced partnership with Israel-based Tactical Robotics, Bayer’s CropScience Division and its efforts in China and Japan on small-holder farms, and Rantizo
ADAMA + Tactical Robotics
In March, ADAMA, in Tel Aviv, Israel, announced the undertaking of a joint feasibility study with Tel-Aviv-based neighbor and drone innovator Tactical Robotics on high-payload unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for aerial crop spraying.
Dani Harari, SVP Strategy & Resources, ADAMA, says that the first feasibility flight, in which Tactical outfitted its high-payload UAV with spray booms and did a test spray with water, is in the books. The company will shift to looking at different agronomic considerations, such as what heights are best for applying products to crops, and whether the military-grade drone Tactical is using provides any sort of drift-reduction benefits compared to ground-rig application.
Harari says that ADAMA’s approach – partnering with Tactical Robotics and using its Ag-Cormorant high-payload (500 KG), vertical-takeoff bi-rotor drone – sets it apart from other developers in the space.
“To my knowledge, there is no similar UAV spraying platform with this kind of payload capabilities available at the moment,” Harari says. “Published initiatives, with DJI for example, are focused on significantly lower payload capabilities (i.e., under 55 lbs.) and adjuvants for drift reduction, using small drones. We’re talking about totally different things.”
Harari says the company is currently targeting what they consider the big markets for aerial drone spraying – the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and Canada.
Drone-based application would serve to shore up the depleted ranks of aerial application pilots and provide an overnight application window when pilots are not able to fly.
Currently, U.S. FAA’s Part 107 and its current regulatory structure makes testing such a high-payload spray drone here in the states virtually impossible. But Harari is optimistic that both the passage of time and the public growing more comfortable with drone technology will hasten the adoption of spray drone technology on U.S. crop land.
“The technology is already there,” he allows. “Part 107 came after drones were almost everywhere already, and I believe that new regulations will adapt to the technological development. It might take three years or five years, perhaps less.
Intelligent Agriculture is the trend of all over the world. And the intelligent drone act as a important role in this world plan.
Agriculture spraying drone can replace the traditional pesticide sprayer and it's speed is 40times of the traditional sprayer. It will save 90% water and 30%-40% pesticide. Small droplet diameter make the pesticide more well-distribute and improve the effect. At the same time, it will make the people faraway from the pesticide and reduce the pesticide remain of the crop.
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