Drone sprayers have been used in Pacific Rim agriculture for more than two decades, and they gained California certification four years ago. But do they have potential beyond the orchard gate? Probably not, at least not in the foreseeable future, according to Tom Wolf, also known as the Nozzle Guy, in a recent post to his Sprayers101 Agrimetrix website.
Drone advocates say a drone can access problem topography or saturated soil where your self-propelled sprayer cannot go. True, but those are the areas you can’t farm anyway. Your tractor, seeder and combine won’t enter those areas, so why should your sprayer.
“While OK for spot spraying, it represents a serious productivity constraint for anything larger,” Wolf told Ron Lyseng of The Western Producer. “There will be a push towards lower volumes, perhaps 0.5 to one gallons per acre. The only way these will provide sufficient coverage is with finer sprays, (American Society of Agricultural and Biotechnical Engineers) fine to very fine, with expected problematic effects on off-target movement and evaporation. These fine droplets are also more prone to the aerodynamic eccentricities of aircraft.”