Agriculture Drones are now widely recognized as useful tools in the agricultural industry, helping farmers increase yields through timely aerial data collection. However, aside from gathering vital information on crop health UAV’s are also helping in everyday farm activities like crop spraying.
Though the tradition can’t be changed with the technology but the processes involved can be supplemented with the help of this technology.
Ag spraying drones can help in the application of:
They can also be used to treat any seasonal attack such as locust attack, locust plague or invasion. Combining spraying with gathering essential insight into crop health and enabling the production of detailed NDVI and RGBI maps, UAV’s are actively optimizing daily farming operations.
There are many agriculture drones out in the market to choose from but let us look into the top tier of Ag spraying drone solutions from the largest drone manufacturer DJI.
DJI CROP SPRAYING DRONE SOLUTIONS
When it comes to meeting the demands of modern agriculture, size really does matter. DJI has launched its latest drone in the “AGRAS” series of its agriculture drones – AGRAS T40.
The T40 is capable of carrying 40 liters of pesticide. Previously the T30 used to carry 30 liters and the T20 could carry 20 liters. T40 can do multiple operations at the same time.
The drone comes with a gimbal camera that is used to snap photographs while the drone is flying and those photographs are then used for surveying and mapping.
The agriculture drone can also spread granular particles with a swappable tank system. For added flight safety, there are active radars installed to avoid any obstacles in the way such as power lines, trees, walls, or fences.
For hassle-free operation, the drone is waterproof and can be washed with water after the operation is over. The battery is swappable so that there is less time consumed during changing of batteries or refilling of the tank. The T40 comes with the following specifications:
- Empty weight: 38 Kilograms
- Maximum takeoff weight: 90 Kilograms
- Maximum Wheelbase: 2184 mm
- Number of motors: 8
- Maximum flight time without payload: 18 minutes
- Maximum flight time with payload: 7 minutes
- Maximum liquid capacity: 40 liters
- Maximum granular capacity: 40 kilograms
- Liquid flow rate: 12 Liters/minute …
WHAT PRODUCTS CAN BE APPLIED WITH A SPRAYING DRONE?
Spraying drones can apply a variety of products in a variety of ways. Most commonly and widely used is the spraying of pesticides and the spreading of granules. An agriculture spraying drone has onboard pumps that pump liquid from the storage tank and then feed the liquid into spraying nozzles.
The spraying nozzles with the help of special nozzle tips, atomize the liquid and spread the liquid into more tiny droplets so that those drops can cover every corner of the crop. Apart from atomization, the air pushed from the propellers of the drone further helps the liquid to penetrate the crops. This feature is helpful when the height of the crop is taller and the farmer cannot walk in it.
Apart from spraying, the drones can be used for:
Drones help spray pesticides and fertilizers to nourish crops and provide them with what they require. These reinforcements enable plants to grow and flourish.
Thermal fogging with drone
Thermal fogging is the heating of an aerosolized deodorant spray into a fine mist. As mist form, the mixture can penetrate hardest to reach areas.
Powder dispensing using a drone
Drones can safely fly closer to the ground and effectively dispense powder to hard reaching areas.
HOW MANY ACRES PER HOUR CAN A DRONE SPRAY?
Spraying drones primary advantage in agriculture is their time-saving in terms of the area they can cover with precision and accuracy. A drone can cover acres of land in a couple of minutes. The exact amount of area depends on the drone being used.
A smaller drone cannot cover a large area due to a small battery and smaller carrying capacity and a large drone cannot cover a very large area due to less flight time reason being its weight. Therefore a mid-level drone that can carry an appropriate quantity of liquid and can fly for a long enough time is an ideal drone for this operation. AGRAS T40 drone can cover 52.6 acres of area in 1 hour of spraying flight. That is approximately 6 acres per flight on one battery and tank.
HOW MUCH DOES THE Spraying Drone TANK HOLD?
An spraying drone can hold anywhere between 5 liters to 60 liters of chemicals. The capacity depends on the drone model. As we discussed above that the AGRAS T40 can hold 40 liters of liquid. This means the drone can carry 40 liters of liquid in its tank and gets it sprayed onto crops as it flies over.
HOW FAST CAN THE DRONE FLY WHEN SPRAYING?
An agriculture drone cannot fly very fast like camera drones or fpv drones. It has a high torque propulsion system that fulfills the power requirement mostly. Drones as big as agriculture drones have a lot of inertia compared to smaller drones so appropriate propulsion is required to fulfill both speed and power requirements.
An AGRAS T40 drone can fly at 7 m/s which is an adequate speed for both powering and speed of the drone that is carrying up to 90 kilograms of weight. Regardless of size, agriculture drones operate in this speed range to effectively spray the field. If too fast, there will be spots left unattended.
DO SPRAYER DRONES HAVE CAMERAS?
Yes, sprayer drones have cameras for a couple of reasons. One is to give the pilot situational awareness during the spray operation. Other is to capture photo data during spraying. A camera can save the drone from any mishaps or accidents.
The AGRAS T40 drone is integrated with a mapping camera so the operator can survey the field being sprayed. The data later helps in improving the treatment of crops. Also if the field is on an inclined terrain, the drone can follow an inclined path to spray.
HOW MUCH CAN I CHARGE FOR A CUSTOM APPLICATION WITH A SPRAYER DRONE?
The answer to this depends on how big of a project you get from your client. Many service providers provide spraying services on a preset minimum area of land. That means they include all the business overheads, operational costs, and logistics costs in their service charges.
This is the best approach as it saves time and cost. It makes sure you are not operating in loss. Depending on the region you set up the agriculture drone business you can offer these services on a preset minimum area of land based on the size of your team, office, transport and local fuel costs.
WHAT LICENSING IS NEEDED TO FLY A SPRAYER DRONE?
This depends on which country you are setting up your agriculture drone business or where you are being employed as an agriculture drone pilot. Let’s talk about the United States. To fly an agriculture drone such as AGRAS T40 in the United States, you will require the following:
FAA PART 107
The FAA part 107 is the drone pilot’s license issued by the federal aviation authority in the United States. This license has to be obtained by every drone pilot in the United States regardless of the size of the drone. …
FAA PART 137
The FAA part 137 is a license that allows a drone pilot to dispense chemicals from a drone. The pesticide liquid is harmful to human health hence there are strict regulations on the use of these chemicals and their applications in particular by a drone. …
Section 44807 is required to legally fly a drone that is above 55 lbs or 25 kilograms limit. Agriculture drones are heavy and often they weigh over 25 kilograms. To fly a heavy aircraft, this license is required along with part 107. …