SOP for drone application in agriculture released

New Delhi: Stating that the government is making continuous efforts to infuse new technologies in agriculture, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said that adoption of drone technology is the need of the times and will benefit farmers.

“Adoption of technology will provide sustainable solution in the context of enhancing the productivity as well as efficiency of the agriculture sector. Along with it, formation of Farmer Producer Organisation (FPOs) and the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) will bring about a revolution in the lives of small farmers,” he said while releasing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for drone applications in agriculture.

He noted that the drones were used for the first time in warding off the locust attacks in various states of the country.

The SOPs for drone regulation for pesticide application covers aspects like statutory provisions, flying permissions, area distance restrictions, weight classification, overcrowded areas restriction, registration, safety insurance, piloting certification, operation plan, air flight zones, weather conditions, SOPs for pre, post and during operation, and emergency handling plan.

Considering the unique advantages of drone technologies in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in consultation with all the stakeholders, has brought out the SOPs for use of drones in pesticide and nutrient application that provides concise instructions for effective and safe operations of drones.

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones have great potential to revolutionise Indian agriculture and ensure the country’s food security. The National Drone Policy has been notified and the Drone Rules 2021 have been made significantly easier for people and companies in the country to now own and operate drones. The requisite fees for permissions have also been reduced to nominal levels, a release from the Ministry said.

Drones are well-equipped with many features like multi-spectral and photo cameras and can be used in many areas like monitoring crop stress, plant growth, predict yields, deliver props like herbicides, fertiliser, and water. They can be used for assessing the health of any vegetation or crop, field areas inflicted by weeds, infections and pests and based on this assessment, the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight these infestations can be applied, thereby optimising the overall cost for the farmer.

Drone planting systems have also been developed by many start-ups which allow drones to shoot pods, their seeds, and spray vital nutrients into the soil. Thus, this technology increases consistency and efficiency of crop management, besides reducing the cost.

“The farmers face many problems like unavailability or high cost of labourers, health problems by coming in contact with chemicals (fertilisers, pesticides, etc.) while applying them in the field, bite by insects or animals, etc. In this context, drones can help farmers in avoiding these troubles in conjunction with the benefits of being a green technology. Use of drones in agriculture may also give ample opportunities to provide employment to people in rural areas,” the release added.

Agriculture Secretary, Sanjay Agarwal and Ministers of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Shobha Karandlaje were also present.

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