Narendra Singh Tomar releases SoP for use of drones for crop protection

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New Delhi [India], December 22 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday released the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for use of drones in pesticide application for crop protection and for spraying soil and crop nutrients.

“Drone Technology is useful for Agriculture and will benefit farmers,” said Tomar, said a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi all policies since 2014 are aimed at doubling farmer’s income by 2022,” he added, as per the press release.

He said that the formation of the Farmer Producer Organisation (FPOs) and the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) will bring about a revolution in the lives of small farmers, according to the statement.

The minister informed that the drones were used for the first time in warding off the locust attacks in various states of the country, as per the statement.

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

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones has great potential to revolutionize 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.

Drones are well-equipped with many features like multi-spectral and photo cameras and can be used in many areas of the agriculture sector such as monitoring crop stress, plant growth, predicting yields, deliver props like herbicides, fertilizer and water.

Drones 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 optimizing the overall cost for the farmer.

The farmers face many problems like unavailability or high cost of labours, health problems by coming in contact with chemicals (fertilizers, 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. The use of drones in agriculture may also give ample opportunities to provide employment to people in rural areas.

During the release of the SOPs event in the Agriculture Ministry, Secretary Agriculture Sanjay Agarwal delivered an address on the advantages of drone technologies. Others who witnessed the event were Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Shobha Karandlaje. Senior officials of the ICAR, State government officials and owners of the Custom Hiring Centres all across the country witnessed this event through a webcast.

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