The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones for crop protection that has been gradually adopted across the globe, is up for grabs in the state as farmers can now hire drones for spraying pesticides or insecticides on their crop. Agriculture pesticide spray drones will be made available for hire at 66 Krishi Yantra Dhare centres in 10 districts across the state through a private farm equipment rental company.
“Manual spraying of pesticides can be extremely dangerous and a large number of farmers deaths are reported every year due to accidental intake of pesticides. To avoid this, drones can be used for spraying the pesticides to prevent the spread of crop diseases,” Mallikarjun Marchad Goud, director, Varsha Agri Business Centre for Development Ltd said.
Goud said his farm equipment rental company will offer drone rental services at 66 Krishi Yantra Dhare centres in 10 districts, including Ballari, Raichur, Yadgir, Shivamogga, Chitradurga, Hubbali-Dharwad. The Krishi Yantra Dhare centres under the Karnataka government Krishi Yantra Dhare scheme provide farm equipment on hire basis. “The initiative to rent out drones is our own and there is no government support,” he said.
The cost of agriculture pesticide spray drones can vary between Rs 2 and Rs 10 lakh, which is not affordable to farmers, besides expertise is needed to handle the drones. “In order to make this technology available to farmers, we will be offer rental services,” Goud said.
He said the drones can be used on a wide variety of crop. “The vineyards on the outskirts of Bengaluru and other parts of the state, arecanut plantations and coconut plantations, cotton and paddy fields can make use of it,” Goud said.He added the technology would not be limited to the centres but would be made available to others in the farming community as well.
A scientist with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Department of Aerospace Engineering, which has been developing agri drones among others applications, said that use of drones in farming is expected to grow. “Like the farm tractor that is used to carry out various tasks on the agriculture field, drones too can perform many tasks,” he said.