Drones in Agriculture or Unmanned aerial vehicles

Drones in Agriculture or Unmanned aerial vehicles

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or Drones in Agriculture

Relevance for Mains: GS-3, Increasing farmer income, Significance and applications of using drones technology in agriculture.

Relevance for prelims: Drones Technology

In News: Farmers in Wayanad have trained themselves in the technology to use in their plantation and to instruct officials of various government organizations since unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones are emerging as a strong instruments in the agricultural industry.

Significance of Drones in Agriculture

  • In India, the agriculture industry supports 8% of families and guarantees the food security of 1.3 billion people.
  • Indian agriculture plays a crucial role in the global food supply chain in addition to being important for the home market.
  • Agriculture drones effectively analyze environmental elements such as weather, soil quality, and temperature and enable the farmer to make thoughtful decisions in response.
  • The collected information aids in managing crop health, crop treatment, crop scouting, irrigation, field soil analysis, and crop damage assessments.
  • Drone surveys increase crop yields while cutting down on time and costs.

Key Concerns of Drone In Agriculture 

  • Skill and Knowledge: A unskilled farmer cannot analyze drone operations because doing so involves specific knowledge and skills that aren’t common.
  • Flight Time and Range: Drones used in agriculture have short flight times and a limited range because their payloads are generally heavier.
  • High Price: Generally, agricultural drones are more expensive because they require the purchase of imaging sensors, software, hardware, and tools.
  • Connectivity: Farmers planning to employ drones must either make an investment in connectivity or purchase a drone with the ability to store local data in a format that can be transferred and processed later.
  • Drones are subject to meteorological conditions. Drones are more difficult to fly in windy or rainy situations than regular aircraft.
  • Misuse: There is a potential for information to be used improperly and for the unauthorized transfer of information.
  • Laws: Apart from having an impact on drone development and use, India’s numerous drone rules cause ambiguity.
  • Drone use in agriculture is restricted by the need for an unmanned aircraft operator’s permit (UAOP) and permission for each flight through the Online Digital Sky platform to comply with No Permission No Take Off (NPNT) regulations.

Applications of Drones in Agriculture

  • Applications: Drones have a wide range of uses,

Including:

  • Application of nutrients and pesticides
  • Region of water spread mapping.
  • Water sampling macrophyte infestation mapping.
  • Techniques for managing aquaculture.
  • Cost of application – According to the WEF, the use of drones could cut application costs by 20% while reducing the health risks associated with manual labor.
  • It is also helpful in promoting precision agriculture, which will maximize the usage of inputs.
  • Production – A 15% boost in productivity is possible with the help of data-based farm consultancy services and precision agriculture expertise.
  • Crop production forecasting and evidence-based planning are made easier by the data collecting and resource-efficient nutrient application made possible by drones.
  • Drones can effectively facilitate the mainstreaming of developing technologies like yield estimate or insurance.
  • Government initiatives will be aided by drones, which will also reduce irrigation water waste and boost programs like Per Drop More Crop.
  • By assisting with crop-cutting trials, crop loss estimation, insurance assessment, and dispute resolution, drone data coupled with GIS and Google Earth satellite pictures will streamline programs like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  • Agri-research: Using drones will enable highly specialized and regional agri-research.
  • Better pricing – Since drones can record links in both directions, food processing firms will be able to purchase from farmers at a higher rate.

Way Ahead

  • The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for deploying drones to apply pesticides and nutrients were published by the agriculture ministry.
  • The Agriculture Ministry offers grants to agricultural institutions up to Rs. 10 lakhs for the acquisition of drones.
  • In the Budget 2022–23, Union Finance Minister stated that the Center would support “Kisan Drones” to assist farmers in evaluating crops, digitizing land records, and applying nutrients and insecticides.
  • In order to make drone operations easier for civilian drone operators, the government has announced the Drone Rules 2021.

Drone (Amendment) Rules 2022

  • A license for drone pilots is no longer necessary.
  • For non-commercial drone operations up to two kilograms, no remote pilot qualification is necessary.
  • Drone operations in the nation will only require the Remote Pilot Certificate granted by a drone school recognized by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation through the single-window Digital Sky platform.
  • Any person in possession of an unmanned aircraft system made in India or imported into India on or before November 30, 2021, must submit an application to register, obtain a unique identification number, and provide the necessary information in form D-2 along with the required payment in accordance with Rule 46.
  • The import of foreign drones has been outlawed in India in order to encourage Made in India drones.

Kisan Drones

  • An unmanned tank carrying pesticides and fertilizers will be mounted on the Kisan drone.
  • In approximately 15 minutes, the drone will cover an area of land measuring around one acre with the same quantity of pesticide.
  • It will save time, involve less work, and ensure uniform spraying.
  • They will also be used to transport produce from farms, including fruits, vegetables, fish, and more, to markets.
  • A large capacity of 5 to 10kg is anticipated for the drones.
  • Farmers and fishermen will make more money because these products may be delivered directly to the market in a shorter amount of time with no damage.

Further Reading

  • Applications of drones in different sectors.
  • Classification of zones for drone operations.
  • Drone Management in India.

Source:

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