The Agronomists, Ep 127: Droning on seed and fertilizer with Reuben Stone and Felix Weber


UAVs, or drones, have evolved past aerial imagery and are quickly becoming a useful tool in the early fly-on of seed into standing crops.

This is pretty new territory for many, so to unpack what to consider and how successful a drone can be as a seeder, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Reuben Stone of Valley Bio and Felix Weber of Ag Business & Crop Inc. on this week’s episode of The Agronomists.

This episode of The Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, Corteva Enlist E3, and the Machinery Update!


  • How early can we fly seed on into a standing crop? Perhaps as early as two to four weeks pre-harvest
  • You have a drone? You also have to service it. There are companies out there that specialize in this, too.
  • The space for drones in agriculture is continuously evolving
  • Deciding the ROI of drones can be tricky
  • There’s many different types of drones for different uses — an application drone is MUCH larger than an imaging drone
  • There’s competition in the marketplace now for drones, and not just a drone with a small tank, but ones that are actually made and targeted at agriculture
  • Application drones for North America are pretty new
  • Make sure you are laying out your boundary maps on the drone as well
  • There’s a couple of legal differences between a regular imaging drone and an application drone Know the rules — through Transport Canada, and through the PMRA
  • Currently where things are at, operating a drone on a daily basis for your applications is hard
  • There are things moving, but currently regulatory policy is…difficult. There’s time you can fly, times you can’t,
  • The height of drone to drop differs on the type of drone
  • Application drones are getting bigger and bigger, to the point they’ve almost become helicopters. Is there a point where increased size doesn’t make sense?
  • Is there an issue with blends “settling” out while flying to the application place from the fill point?
  • Drop height changes with seed height/weight
  • Reuben put seed on at three timings this year: four weeks prior to harvest, two weeks prior to harvest, right in front of the combine (so seed got covered with chaff)
  • Results have been really promising — including thinking about double cropping a short-season oat, buckwheat, or forage
  • The longer the drone flies under load the faster the battery dies — lower seeding rates can actually be harder on battery life
  • As far as the drone knows, there’s no difference between day and night. You just have to pay attention to inversion, and the same things you would worry about with environmental stresses as a regular drone
  • The drone really isn’t for everyone, or for every operation. But things are definitely moving.
  • Green on green spraying — there’s some advancements here, too
  • Nozzles are evolving at a pretty high speed

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