Krishi Vigyan Kendra demonstrates the use of drone technology in pesticide application in Vriddhachalam

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They can help farmers spray pesticides and nutrients and are economical, officials say

They can help farmers spray pesticides and nutrients and are economical, officials say

At a time when the agricultural sector is facing multiple challenges including labor shortages and declining incomes, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, comes to the rescue of farmers to assist them in various activities such as spraying support pesticides and nutrients.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Vriddachalam recently demonstrated the technology on gingelly and rice fields in the region. The program aimed to raise farmers’ awareness of how problems such as farm labor shortages and high input costs can be overcome through agricultural mechanization and precision farming. Controlling invasive pests and diseases would also become economical and easy with the help of drones.

KVK had ordered the custom drone from the Tamil Nadu Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Corporation (TNUAVC) at a price of 14.5 lakh with financial support from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

NABARD’s Chief General Manager, T. Venkatakrishna, pointed out that there is great scope for the use of drones in Indian agriculture and urged all Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) to publicize their use.

Vijay Neehar, NABARD’s District Development Manager, explained her role in the implementation of the project and its importance for crop production.

According to Prof. N. Sriram, head and program coordinator of KVK Vriddhachalam, the team from KVK had determined the concentration of pesticides, herbicides, nutrients, etc. They also standardized the spray volume and spray speed for application to rice, sugarcane, gingelly, peanut, corn, cotton, cashews, and legumes. Field trials have been conducted to arrive at the SOP, he said.

“The drone had the capacity to carry up to 10 liters of pesticide and cover 30 acres per day. The tests had shown that the drone could do in a few hours what two workers needed in one day – spray pesticides or spread fertilizer on a hectare. Farmers could also use the drone for localized application of pesticides or fertilizers for effective crop management, and they could do it within a short period of time,” Mr Sriram said.

The KVK will conduct field trials to demonstrate the technology in all 14 blocks in Cuddalore district, Mr Sriram said, adding that after completing the mandatory training and demonstration, farmers could also rent the drones for fertilizer application. Rent would be ₹500-₹600 per acre. Farmers could also form a collective and rent the drone for use over a large area. This would help them save time, effort and money. Farmers could reduce costs by adopting drone technology and improve productivity due to the precision in spraying pesticides, he added.

Over 50 farmers from the NABARD-funded National Agro Foundation (NAF) and FPOs participated. For more details please contact KVK Vriddachalam – 04143 238353.

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