Using drones to spray crops is a new method of dusting in South Africa, with the first license being awarded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2019. And while start-up costs are high, drone technology aimed at spraying crops with fertilisers, insecticides, and ripening agents, promises to be cost-effective over the long run. It’s especially beneficial for smaller farms which often lack the funds to deploy aircraft. This means the use of unmanned aerial aircrafts –in this case, drones– as cost-effective crop dusters is expanding throughout South Africa, after a slow initial start.
Fitted with GPS navigation systems and hovering around two metres above the ground, these specially equipped drones are now offering small-scale farmers a cheaper alternative to plane-based insecticide and fungicide applications.
And while consistent use of microlights and helicopters has protected crops from disease, the costs associated with deploying piloted aircrafts continue to work against small-scale farmers in remote parts of the country. Traditional crop-dusting methods also lack precision and risk overspray, in which neighbouring farms or unprepared crops are inadvertently doused with pesticides.
Photo source: Dreamstime.com