NELLORE: At a time when the agriculture sector is facing shortage of workers due to the Covid pandemic, several farmers in Nellore district have started spraying fertilisers and pesticides in their fields using drones. Farmers in Kodavaluru, Kovur, Vidavaluru and Dagadarthi mandals have started using drones, which are available on rent. And guess what, farmers are happy with the outcome as they could save time and around 30 per cent pesticide by using the drones.
A team of officials led by agriculture officer Anitha have conducted demo classes on the utilisation of drones for spraying fertilisers and pesticides in the fields to farmers especially in villages of Kovur, Kodavaluru, Vidavaluru and Dagadarthi mandals in the district. Agriculture officials have been suggesting usage of the drones approved by the engineering wing of Acharya N G Ranga Agriculture University, Guntur.
“Usage of drones has been yielding good results. Around 30 per cent pesticide can be saved by using drones. It has been giving hopes to the farmers to overcome shortage of agriculture labourers. Usually, we have to wait for the labourers to spray pesticide. Now, there is no such need. It is a good technology. Officials have to create awareness on the usage of drones to all farmers in the region,” S Vaali Kumar, a farmer from Dagadarthi mandal, opined.
Engineering wing of the agriculture department has been offering drones on rent to farmers at a cost of Rs 325 for one acre. Each drone sprays pesticides or fertilisers in one acre within six minutes. “We are taking measures to supply drones to all farmers on rental basis,’’ said Sivannarayana, in-charge Joint Director of Agriculture department.
“Usually labourers from other areas are available for agricultural works. After several restrictions imposed on transportation, there is a shortage for farm hands. We have to pay a huge amount as labour charge for the workers from nearby areas. In fact, the labourers have also increased their wage for working in the fields during the pandemic,’’ said K Srihari Babu, a farmer from Kodavaluru mandal.
With enough water in all major resources, cultivation was taken up in around 8 lakh acres in the Rabi season during 2019 and it was increased to 10 lakh acres in 2020. When it comes to Kharif, cultivation has increased to around 3 lakh acres in 2019 and 6 lakh acres in 2020. The Irrigation Advisory Board has decided to allocate water for 5.90 lakh acre this Kharif season. Farmers have also been cultivating 1.6 lakh acres in the Penna delta area in the district. Farmers have used drum seeders for planting of seeds at the beginning of Kharif season and now started spraying pesticides and fertilisers using drones.