by Han-Ru Xie
[Smart Farming] Plant Protection Drones for Agriculture (Pesticide Spraying)
There is one usage of drones that few people know about but has been in application for years: Plant protection in agriculture. Drones for this purpose are also known as “Plant Protection Drone.” The following is a brief introduction to the advantages of the these drones and their application.
Plant protection drones for higher efficiency
Although drones have only become more prevalent in recent years, those used for plant protection have been adopted in Asia for decades. It was not until 3 to 4 years ago that the technology was introduced into Taiwan. Although it is a rather new concept, it has drawn much attention from young farmers today. Pesticide spraying with the help of drones shortens the working time from 1 hour to only 2 minutes for a piece of land at the size of 969.92 square meters, saving up a lot of time and manpower.
New technology for spraying by air with higher precision
Plant protection drones spray the mixed pesticides from the nozzle in the form of water mist, which covers the crops with the help of the wind pressure from the rotation of the drone wings. The mist become attached to the stems, roots, and the front and back of the leaves, so there are no excessive water droplets that may flow into the soil. The drones can be controlled using an app and software, and the speed and position are set by the system. They can be operated automatically or manually, and as long as the farmland and the path of spraying is set, the drone will take care of the rest after activation.
Despite the high efficiency, there are only certain periods of time when the drones can function. Generally, the spraying will be conducted from 5 to 10 am or 3 to 6 pm, and the spray can be greatly affected by strong wind and heavy rains.
Drones to be replaced by spraying business
Although plant protection drones save time and manpower, they are not always easy to operate. Compared with regular camera drones, plant protection drones come in larger sizes with larger propellers. Also, they cannot fly too low, or the wind pressure may injure the crops. For this reason, it is quite difficult to operate them, and operators would have to learn drone operating and pesticide usage from the beginning. In addition, the spray used by the plant protection drone is much more concentrated than that by manual spraying. Hence, too much or too little spray may harm the crops.
To solve this problem, there are drone teams that specialize in spraying to save the trouble for farmers. However, to become an operator, one has to obtain licenses in farmland spraying as well as a drone operation as a pilot.
Plant protection drones not only solve farming manpower shortages, but also give farmers extra protections for farmers’ health. It is no exaggeration to say that these drones show the practice and strengths of smart farming. It is hoped that in the future, with the efforts of government departments in agriculture, relevant regulations can be in place and there are more opportunities to promote such technology. In this way, these drones can better benefit more farmers in Taiwan.