This summer, a study will look at the potential issues and opportunities for pesticide application on field crops using drones. It’s a multi-collaborator effort of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and industry, including an Agassiz, B.C.-based drone company, Precision Crop Tech.
The use of drones for pesticide application isn’t new, according to AAFC researcher Markus Clodius. Growers in China, Japan and parts of the United States are already using drones for pesticide application, and have the regulatory systems in place for them, he says.
In Canada, Health Canada - which oversees the Pest Control Products Act - will need data on questions such as how much pesticide is needed for proper coverage, if there is pesticide drift and how much residue there is.
Currently, pesticide application is limited to ground vehicles and manned aircraft. Using drones to apply pesticides would be considered an aerial application, only appropriate for pesticides that specifically allow for that kind of use. Clodius will be testing to see if drones can be just as effective as hand-held boom applications.
To generate the data, he’ll be planting 10 plots of leeks at the AAFC Agassiz research centre and infecting them with thrips. Assuming the necessary application permits are received, he’ll work with the drone company in July to apply two different kinds of pesticides on the leeks.
Clodius considers the work a “dry run” and that if the test applications go well, further work may be needed for Health Canada’s consideration of the safety and efficacy of the drone pesticide applications.
Source: The Abbotsford News, May 27, 2019 posting