Where are we at with approval of aerial drone spraying?


A drone designed specifically for broadacre aerial applications of pesticides was on display at Manitoba Ag Days, at Brandon, Man., earlier this month.

With some features different than the typical rotary drones you see out there now, the hybrid drone has a vertical takeoff and land. As Don Campbell, of ROGA Drone Ltd., explains in the video below, flying it is basically like a manned aircraft, with the wings carrying 70-80 per cent of the load.

One question is, what does this do to the drift pattern of what is being sprayed?

Unlike a typical rotary drone, says Campbell, you don’t get as much downwash. “It’s designed to eliminate some of vortices that you see on some planes. Those vortices have an impact probably 15-20 feet off the ground. After that, you lose that downdraft off the wings.”

Currently in Canada, ROGA and others have been working with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) over the last few years, as the agency takes a closer look at drone spraying.

“They’ve actually designated some people in the PMRA to have a look at this issue. Last October, we had two approvals from the PMRA on mosquito larvicides. I know there’s a lot of research authorizations out there that are being look at now,” Campbell explains. “Hopefully this year we’re going to see some more approvals for pesticides.”

The onus is on the chemical companies to get drone spraying approved on their labels, which is currently what is slowing the process down. This of course only applies currently to products that are regulated by the PMRA — which limits right now to biologicals, fertilizers, and biostimulants. As Campbell notes, some of these products have a really good fit for the particular drone.

As far as the U.S. goes when it comes to drone spraying, they are a bit farther ahead, says Campbell, as they are currently on a state-by-state basis.

This specific drone is currently operating in Australia right now, where more testing will occur this spring.

Check out the full conversation between Don Campbell and RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner, below:

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