HYDERABAD: Using a drone to spray pesticides is not permitted in the country, despite the fact that it saves the kisan from exposing himself to the toxic chemicals. A main reason cited for this is the lack of scientific validity regarding the use of drones for the purpose. Research by agricultural experts from the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) and a private company will soon shed some light in this direction.
The collaboration is working on developing SOP for using drones to spray pesticides, for which field work is being taken up across the State. As part of the research, drones are being used to spray pesticides on paddy, groundnut, red gram, cotton and soya bean crops at the Regional Agricultural Research Stations (RARS) in Warangal, Jagtial, Palem, Tandur and Rajendranagar. The crops make up almost 90 per cent of the area under cultivation in Telangana.
How will spraying pesticides through drones help? The experts involved in the research said there are several problems in the traditional method of spraying pesticide, including the fact that it puts the farmers’ health at risk. “Most pigeonpea pesticide operations are carried out by using conventional spraying machinery, which provides ineffective control. Manual spraying operations are very difficult in red gram because of the crop’s height. Of late, farmers are using tractor-drawn spray equipment which damages one out of every six rows of the crop. On the other hand, the drone technology offers a golden opportunity for the accurate application of pesticide. It can also save water, which is a major constraint in redgram cultivated areas of Telangana,” an expert said.
The State government’s ITEC Department and PJTASU have roped in a Hyderabad-based startup, Marut Dronetech, for helping them out with the new-age technology. Speaking to Express, Prem Kumar Vislawath, co-founder of Marut Dronetech, said, “Our drone technology provides the option of spraying according to the pests’ active hours, the ability to respond immediately with detection of pests and the flexibility to spray according to changing weather conditions. The solution enables a precise and uniform coverage of the entire plot.” An expert said the accuracy of dispersion/spray quality has tremendous significance.
Objectives of the research
- Developing protocols for diagnosis of major pests and diseases; targeted drone spraying on paddy in Kampasagar, Nalgonda
- Study and standardise drone operating procedures for plant protection
- Study the spray fluid requirement for different crops, optimise adjuvants or pre-wetting requirements
- Study the efficacy of the selected and most popular insecticides/fungicides
- To test soil/water quality, grain samples for pesticide residues
- Study the impact on beneficial fauna, including avian fauna
Expected outcome of the research
- SOPs for the use of drones in plant protection
- Crop-specific SOPs developed for using drones in pest/disease management for 5 principal crops — paddy, cotton, soybean, groundnut, redgram — of TS
- New protocols for enhancing plant protection efficiency using drones
- Enable building of a scientific knowledge base which not only helps in making policy decisions but also benefits farmers in effective and safer plant protection operations