UAVs to Spray Pesticide on Crops
UAV spraying is effective tool for applying pesticides on crops. UAVs especially shine when fields are flooded with water, making entry of motorized vehicle to the field impractical or when treating crops that grow in steep hills.
UAV pesticide spraying is becoming increasingly available for specialty crops and row-crop production. Recently, UAV manufacturers such as DJI have started offering high payload rotor UAVs that include sprayers.
Spraying with UAVs is a unique practice since it is conducted autonomously. UAV sprayers are equipped with almost all the parts of any other sprayer: a tank, a pump to push liquid through the hoses to the nozzles, filters and a pressure gauge. But there are limitations, mostly on the size of these components because of the power required to keep the UAV sprayer in flight mode for a reasonable time.
UAVs carry unique characteristics when applying liquid products. First, the application is different from ground-based machines but not the same as typical aerial applications completed with helicopters or crop dusters. These small UAVs are typically flown 3 to 10 feet above the crop or target area with their rotors creating turbulence or what we call vortices. While the turbulence created by the rotors can help spray droplets penetrate into a crop canopy and provide good coverage on the top and bottom of leaves, these vortices cause drift concerns. Research is being conducted to determine spray deposition, coverage and drift from UAV sprayers in comparison to other methods used for pesticide application. Unique features for UAV sprayers include vertical or altitude adjustments for topography or height, autonomous swath control, and safety.
In general, spray UAVs for applying products to row-crops will have 4 to 5-gallon tanks with a spray width between ranging 10 and 15 feet. The application rate will be 1 to 2 gallons per acre or set in accordance with product labels. Today, multi-rotor UAVs have a flight time of around 15 – 20 minutes allowing a tank to be dispersed before needing to land to refill plus change out batteries for the next flight. Most manufacturers provide estimates on application rates in minutes per acre with most UAVs spraying an acre within 3 to 4 minutes.
UAVs can be used to clean up fields, spray drowned out spots, control resistant weed escapes, or other small areas within a field versus using a high-clearance sprayer.
Today, the mapping process is more accurate and efficient given the development of AI representing an essential step forward in technology.
Companies developing and testing these systems have been successful in applying to the FAA for an exemption under Section 333 resulting in the FAA potentially issuing a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA for Certificate of Authorization) to facilitate testing in the United States.
Farmers and ranchers can purchase spray UAVs today but, at a minimum, you will need following three licenses to operate:
- Private Pesticide Applicator License in Ohio –
- Part 107 Certificate through the FAA
- Part 137 Certificate through the FAA –
However, if the UAV weighs over 55 pounds it must be registered with the FAA under Rule 47.
- 2- or 4-stroke gas engine depending upon model
- 6.3, 4.2, or 8.5 on-board storage (2 tanks) depending upon model
- 0.3 to 0.5 gpm discharge rate
- Granular material application option
- Legal in CA to apply crop protection products. Purchase service from Yamaha.
- Electric with 8 rotors
- 2.6 gallon tank
- Spray Width = 4 – 6 m spray width
- 4 nozzle boom
- Electric with 8 rotors
- 4.5- gallon tank
- Typically 1 gpm
- 15-foot spray width
- 6-nozzle boom
While there is still work on application quality, spray UAVs provide unique capabilities over manned aircraft and ground spraying equipment. To learn how we can help you register your UAV then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or click HERE.