Rice cultivation has a new protagonist: the agricultural drone. A project conducted in southern Russia reveals, in fact, the success of the introduction of the unmanned aerial vehicle in the complete cycle of this crop.
The experiment represented a further confirmation of the value of precision agriculture.
An essential and delicate cultivation
Rice is the staple crop for over half of the global population. But its traditional production is threatened by climate change and the financial difficulties faced by farmers. Rice cultivation is in fact expensive both in terms of resources (water, pesticides and fertilizer) and labor.
The efficacy of drones
Reducing the cost of rice production is therefore one of the biggest objectives for farmers. And the solution comes from the sky, as evidenced by the project implemented in the province of Krasnodar. Cultivating rice fields more precisely and with a lower use of agrochemicals is, in fact, possible thanks to drones.
The effectiveness of this aircraft was tested at different growth stages including seeding, crop spraying and fertilizer spread.
During seeding, drones eliminate the difficulties caused by the unstable cultivated land. In addition, unmanned aerial vehicles evenly distribute seeds at sowing rates of 35 kg/ha and 50 kg/ha.
And drones also play a key role in weed control and removal. They are used to spray crop protection agents at night. An important improvement since the herbicides can rapidly break down through exposure to open sunlight. Thus favoring full functioning of the protective agents.
The drone with intelligent atomization spraying technology could allow for higher precision as well as better penetration into the bottom plant layer.
A similar argument can be made for the use of nitrogen fertilizers to feed rice crops and increase yields. An excessive application of these substances in fact leads to strong emission of agricultural greenhouse gasses. With the help of drones, on the other hand, it is possible to carry out a precise and uniform distribution of the granules throughout the growth process.
Farmers also used drones for desiccant spraying in the period prior to harvest. Desiccants, by drying the plant on the root, ensure that all crops can be harvested at the same time.
The Russian project has revealed a still partially unexplored potential. In the coming years, agricultural engineering companies will be called upon to expand the range of possibilities of autonomous drone technology to improve the resistance and the efficiency of the sector.