Center issues guidelines for using drones to spray pesticides
The Center has issued guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for spraying pesticides using drones that will help reduce the risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals and will also ensure the judicious use of these insecticides in areas where they are cultures. However, adoption of the technology will depend more on its profitability since more than 80 percent of the country’s farmers own less than 2 hectares of land, experts say.
“Drones are going to be important in increasing the efficiency of the application of crop protection chemicals by reducing labor requirements, reducing application time, reducing water volume, quantity of chemicals and avoiding drift to the environment while reducing human exposure to hazardous chemicals. According to the SOP for the use of drone application with pesticides for crop protection in agricultural, forest and uncultivated areas, released by the Ministry of Agriculture last week.
Currently, pesticides are sprayed either manually or using tractor-mounted sprayers where large amounts of pesticides and water are used. However, in both cases a significant portion of the spray is released into the environment.
On the other hand, drone-based spraying requires less water and pesticides, due to better application and efficiency, the ministry said.
Any operator must register for the application of pesticides by drone with the Central Insecticides Council and the Registration Committee (CIB & RC), in addition to complying with the rules on drones of the Director General of Civil Aviation.
“As the registration guidelines were also released simultaneously, we are now urging the agrochemical industry to initiate the necessary trials, apply for product registration, and work with drone manufacturers and service providers to benefit farmers. indians.
The many benefits of drone application include increased efficiency and accuracy leading to better pest management and crop productivity, ”said Asitava Sen, CEO of industry body CropLife India, in a statement.
This move will significantly reduce the risk of operator exposure and help develop skills in rural areas, Sen said, adding that such technology deserves faster adoption and ease of doing business to avoid delays / obstacles. .
This SOP will provide guidance to stakeholders involved in implementing safe and effective pest and disease control, he said.
The good thing is that the guidelines put the blame on the drone operators, not the farmers. This in itself will ensure that operators do not spray any pesticides or any amount on a particular land, even if a farmer hires him for the job. This will shift the current practice of following the advice of the local pesticide dealer to “a more knowledgeable skilled workforce” who will undertake the work, Sen said.
“This will help create local entrepreneurship, as a capital expenditure of around 14-15 lakh will be required for a drone,” said Smit Shah, director of the Drone Federation of India. As a drone can cover 2 hectares of land in 30-40 minutes, it will be very effective in controlling pests, Shah said, adding that 35-40% of pesticide applications on China’s farmland are currently by drones.
Drones, as a future technology for spraying pesticides, will be promoted by the agriculture ministry through custom recruiting centers and cooperatives, sources said, adding that some incentive programs could be rolled out. from next year. The SOP for drone regulation covers legal provisions, flight authorizations, area distance restrictions, weight classification, restriction of overcrowded areas, registration, safety assurance, pilot certification, the plan of operation, the air flight zones, the meteorological conditions and the emergency management plan. Only the generation of phytotoxicity data on the approved crop for a season is required under the guidelines and a standard protocol for the conduct of phytotoxicity studies has been prescribed.