Drones to revive agricultural activities

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Drones are increasingly being used for precision fertilizer and pesticide applications and identifying plant diseases and conditions

Drones are increasingly being used for precision fertilizer and pesticide applications and identifying plant diseases and conditions

Aerial drones are expected to bring major changes in agricultural activities in the state as elsewhere in the world. The Center has developed a policy to encourage the deployment of drone technology in various fields and has granted concessions for this purpose.

Drones are increasingly being used for precision fertilizer and pesticide applications and identifying plant diseases and conditions. The start-ups have helped spread the technology with increasing sophistication and say farmers and those in other regions have eagerly embraced the use of drones for both aerial and underwater operations.

Although the Department of Agriculture and Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) have not yet issued guidelines on the use of drones, trials have been undertaken in different parts of the state on the use of drones. technology.

Department sources say the use of drones can aid in the wise use of fertilizers and that the technology has been widely deployed in neighboring states. Drones can also be used for pest and disease management. The use of new technology can help the state move closer to the goal of ensuring food security through improved agricultural production.

Recent trials and demonstrations have helped farmers adopt unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) technology and this may pave the way for labor shortages as well as the precise use of fertilizers and pesticides. in agricultural activities. Hand spraying can lead to pollution of air and water bodies due to excessive applications. However, the use of drones can help reduce these impacts.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Thrissur, recently conducted frontline demonstrations on the application of micronutrients developed by KAU specifically for rice in Wayanad and Pazhayannoor. The results are being analyzed. The demonstrations were conducted under strict supervision by respecting the protocols. The Sampoorna micronutrient developed by KAU is completely organic and poses no threat to the environment, sources say.

The use of drones not only reduces the use of fertilizers with precision application, but also saves time. Fertilizer spraying, which takes about six to seven hours when done manually, can be done in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Devan Chandrashekharan of Fuselage Innovations, an agricultural start-up based in Maker Village in Kochi, has been involved in providing drones for agricultural activities for about a year and a half now. He says drones can help reduce agricultural input consumption by around 70% and increase production by around 30%.

The company mainly helped paddy and tea plantations in Alappuzha, Thrissur, Kottayam and Idukki. He works with farmers on about 15,000 acres in these districts, including about 4,000 acres of kol rice fields in Thrissur and about 5,600 acres in Alappuzha.

Gopala Menon, a farmer from Pazhayannoor in Thrissur, says about 50 farmers who used drones to spray fertilizer on about 50 acres in the Neelichira paddy collective were pleasantly surprised with the results. “The yields have been excellent. While in previous years the yield was around one ton to two tons of paddy per acre, the use of the drone resulted in an increase in yield of 2.75 to 3 tons per acre.

“The growth rate was better and no pesticides were used,” he says and highlights how the millers, who bought the mainly Tamil Nadu-grown ‘Ponmani’ (CR-1009) paddy for Supplyco, were impressed by the quality of the paddy. There was little chaff in the harvest. The farmers are now planning to release a special brand of paddy from the Neelichira Collective under its own name, Mr Menon says.

He says farmers suffered greatly after the August 2018 floods as soil fertility declined significantly. For the past two years, farmers have had little income from the fields, with the yield remaining around five to six tons per six acres. However, the use of drones has improved productivity to around 16 to 18 tons on six acres.

Sameer P., a farmer from Cherthala, says the use of drones has great advantages over manual activities, including spraying pesticides. While manual spraying requires around 50 liters, drones have reduced usage to around 10 liters per acre. Also, when manual spraying is done in the later stages, many paddy plants are damaged. However, the use of aerial vehicles prevents such damage.

He cultivates rice on about 170 acres, where Uma and Pokkali rice varieties are grown. Mr. Sameer has been using drones for about two years now.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AIC) will incorporate remote sensing technology and the use of drones in crop loss assessment.

According to AIC sources, integrating technology into crop insurance will ensure accurate and timely assessment of losses, which will ensure claims are settled quickly.

The AIC, established in December 2002, meets the country’s crop insurance needs. The General Insurance Corporation of India, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, National Insurance Company Limited, New Indian Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company are shareholders of AIC.


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