Drones for Agricultural Spraying
The following is from our September article for a national pulp and paper publication
DRONES FOR AGRICULTURAL SPRAYING
I can remember my first radio-controlled airplane project like it was yesterday. The small kit consisted of balsa wood, monokote covering, and a small glow fuel engine. My goal was not to become an RC enthusiast. You see, I grew up on a sugar cane farm and the local crop dusting service was less than a mile from our home. I spent much time riding my old BMX bicycle to and from the airport. I was fascinated with the two Air Tractor planes that took off many times during the course of the day. The goal that I had in mind as a ten year old was to provide a spraying service for local gardeners.
I had it all planned out. Straws were glued to the wing tips and several “TeeJet” spray nozzles were taken from my family’s farm shop (thanks to the help of my trusty BMX bike). An extra RC fuel tank would be used for chemical storage.
The project, however, never left the ground.
Fast forward thirty years later. We now have the ability to spray small-acreage tracts with both single and multi-rotor aircraft. This can be done manually (by row) or by flying an automated GPS grid. Most states require a commercial applicators license in addition to an FAA Part 107 certification.
The Yamaha RMAX, a single rotor autonomous helicopter, has been used for spraying crops since the 1990’s. The RMAX is almost 12ft in length, weighs just over 200lbs, and has a chemical tank capacity of up to 68lbs. The machine has an average flight duration of 1hr.
In 2016, DJI introduced the Agras MG-1, a large octocopter with a 2.6ga chemical tank. The MG-1 has a hovering time of 10 – 24 minutes depending on payload.
The Gaia 160 is another large multirotor spray drone. The 160 has a 6 gallon chemical capacity and a flight duration of around 18 minutes.
Stay tuned for more articles as well delve into the world of crop spraying with unmanned systems.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions about our services.
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