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Drones as Pesticide: Bringing Sustainability to Agriculture

By Dick Weisinger

As an alternative to the use of chemical pesticides which can have harmful affects on humans and the environment, farmers are experimenting with the use of drones.

Drones are being used to apply pesticides with more precision so that less pesticide is used and the pesticide that is applied works more effectively.

Another use for drones is in the application of sterile insects over a field. The insects mate with wild insects which then reduces the presence of the insect by as much as 90 percent. Michelle Cook, spokesperson for the Sterile Insect Release program, said that “this is an environmentally beneficial program because the orchardists have to spray less pesticides to control this insect.

In the Netherlands, the company PATS Indoor Drone Solutions, has developed tiny drones that mimic how bats control insect populations. The small drones are equipped with vision systems that let them identify nearby insects and determine the type of insect and whether it is considered beneficial or detrimental to the crop. The drone is able to kill in the air insects considered to be pests. The method can eliminate the use of pesticides and help sustainability.

Rob Baan of Koppert Cress plant nursery said that “you don’t want to kill a ladybug, because a ladybug is very helpful against aphids. So they should kill the bad ones, not the good ones.”

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