May 22, 2024

GHBellaVista

Imagination at work

Pesticides, fertilisers to be ‘air-dropped’

Getting ready for a new-age agriculture where technology and IT solutions will play a major role, Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University will begin experimenting with drone spraying of pesticides and fertilisers.

Beginning the upcoming kharif season, the university will measure the impact of such spraying on various parts of a plant and collect data.

Operating procedures

“We will pin litmus paper-like material to the leaves at different levels of the plant. We can count the intensity of the spray by measuring the number of droplets. Different crops require different doses of pesticide sprays, and at different levels of the plant,” V Praveen Rao, Vice-Chancellor, told BusinessLine.

The university’s scientists will build Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the height at which the drones should fly, the width of spray coverage, and the intensity of the spray on various parts of the plant.

Post iterations, the SOPs for drone flight path, altitude, quantum and spread of the payload for various crops can be replicated by farmers. “We have chosen paddy, cotton, redgram, maize and soya for the pilot that we are taking up in five districts,” Rao said.

After building the protocols, the university plans to cover crops in other States.

Ministry’s nod

The Civil Aviation Ministry has given permission to the university and Marut Dronetech Private Limited (which provides drones) to use drones for evaluation and standardisation of plant protection solutions and developing protocols for the diagnosis of major pests and diseases. The permission is valid till March 16, 2022.

Founded by IIT-Guwahati alumni, Marut Dronetech has developed drone solutions for eradication of mosquitoes, sustainable agriculture and afforestation.

“We have mapped and invited about 110 tech start-ups working in various aspects of agriculture to assess their plans. Of them, we have identified 12 start-ups that plan to deploy technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones and sensors to measure soil moisture,” Rao said. The university plans to incubate such start-ups and mentor them.