Transport Canada grants certificate for spraying with a drone

The use of drones for spraying cleared a major regulatory milestone last summer, as Transport Canada issued its first approval for commercial spraying with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to the Elie, Manitoba-based company that received the permission.

To fly any aircraft — manned or unmanned — for commercial purposes in Canada, you must have a special flight operations certificate or SFOC.

After an extended eight month approval process, ROGA Drone received an SFOC for aerial application of a pesticide with a drone last July.

“We found dealing with Transport Canada, that there were two issues: number one was safety, and number two was safety,” says ROGA Drone owner Don Campbell.

Don Campbell of ROGA Drone at Ag Days in Brandon

Since the rules were written for manned aircraft, the application for spraying with a drone required some extra discussion with Transport Canada officials. For example, spray planes are required to have a dump valve to jettison a load if they get into trouble, explains Campbell.

“Because we’re using such small payloads and flying three feet over the ground, that wasn’t really wasn’t applicable to drones,” he says.

Initially, Campbell says he saw potential for spot spraying of weed patches using drone NDVI maps, but after acquiring a spraying drone from Ukrainian drone startup Kray Technologies, he’s also looking at larger crop areas.

“They have some patented technologies that they can use for ultra low volume and we feel we can get into some bigger areas rather than just spot spraying with that,” he says.

The ultra-low water volumes used by spray drones are currently off-label, but Campbell says he’s working with several chemical companies to address this. He’s also applied to work with PAMI (Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute) to research the effectiveness of fungicides applied by his drone with low water volumes this summer.

“We feel this year is going to be a lot of education and demos to get the product out there and see how we did,” he says.

The technology already exists for swarms of drones working together, but Campbell expects it will take some time before regulations allow a single operator to oversee multiple spray drones. And he doesn’t see drones fully replacing current spraying equipment.

“Planes and high clearance rigs have their place. I don’t think this will be a replacement, but probably an add-on tool,” he says.

Campbell chatted with RealAgriculture at Ag Days in Brandon this week — listen to our conversation here:

Related posts on spraying with drones:

Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 23 to clarify the fact Transport Canada cannot confirm or disclose that ROGA was the first to be granted a certificate for spraying.

Leave a Reply

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

gdpr, __cfduid, PHPSESSID, wordpress_test_cookie, woocommerce_items_in_cart, woocommerce_cart_hash, wp_woocommerce_session, wordpress_logged_in, wordpress_sec, wp-settings, wp-settings-time, __cf_mob_redir, wordpress_cache, realag
__cfduid

Marketing

Measuring interactions with the ads on the domain.

__gads,fsk_ut_2317
IDE

Statistics

These are used to track user interaction and detect potential problems. These help us improve our services by providing analytical data on how users use this site.

_ga,_gid,_gat,_cb,_chartbeat2,_chartbeat4
_ga,_gid
metrics_token

Preferences

Preference cookies enable the website to remember information that changes the way the website behaves or looks, like your preferred language or the region that you are in.

chartdefaults, comment_author, comment_author_email, comment_author_url
JSESSIONID, _os_session,anonymous_votes,csrf-param,csrf-token,user,user-id,user-platform,intercom-session,intercom-lou,intercom-session
personalization_id, tfw_exp

 

Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.

Register