TN govt to use drones armed with pesticide to combat fall army worm menace

The pest had destroyed 30,000 hectares of maize crops in 2018 and recent reports said that they were spotted on more than 100 hectares of maize crops.

Published: 05th November 2019 05:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th November 2019 05:14 AM   |  A+A-

Fall armyworms found on crops in Cuddalore (Picture- Express)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: To combat the infestation of the invasive pest, fall armyworm, the Tamil Nadu government will soon use drones to spray pesticide on the maize farms. For this purpose, experts from Anna University have developed special drones which will be first tried out in Perambalur district near Tiruchy.

The pest had destroyed 30,000 hectares of maize crops in 2018 and recent reports said that they were spotted on more than 100 hectares of maize crops in Veppanthattai, Alathur, Kunnam and Perambalur. The
pest which is native to North America has been the reason behind the worry of hundreds of farmers down south. The fall armyworm is regarded to be one of the most destructive pests as they can fly 100kms in a
day and lay thousands of eggs.

“The drones are in almost ready and we will test them in the farms in next 10 to 15 days in Perambalur district,” said K Senthil Kumar, director of Centre for Aerospace Research (CASR).

Senthil said that officials from agriculture department has asked the centre to provide support for the project as many other countries like China have managed to contain spread of the pest by using drones for spraying pesticide. Accordingly a team of experts from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Anna University and state agriculture department was formed to look into the problem.

“We had few drones which were developed for agricultural purpose and we used the same ones for spraying pesticide in Perambalur, but the agriculture experts in the team found that we need to work on some factors like the stem of the crop should not be affected during the spraying, the air flow should be controlled,” said Senthil.

Senthil recently visited China to get technical know how about the drones used by them for the process and has incorporated the ideas and developed latest drones that can be used in farmlands in Tamil Nadu.

He said that spraying of pesticide through drone is not only effective but it saves time and money too. “The drone’s atomised sprayer applies uniform applications of the pesticide with more precision on the crop so it requires less volumes of the chemical. Similarly, we can cover more hectares of land through
drones than by manual spraying. It will definitely help the farmers a lot,” said Senthil.

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