Manila: Plantations in the Philippines plan to use drones in farms for spraying fertilisers and pesticides, keeping farmers away from harmful chemicals and making agriculture management more efficient.
According to Secretary Manny Piñol, the Department of Agriculture is adopting Aerial Spraying using remote-controlled drones.
Drones are unmanned, remotely controlled vehicles that is gaining wide use in variety of purposes, from military to civilian and personal purposes. The most popular are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Piñol said that initially, 5,000 hectares of vegetable farms in the town of Buguian and other municipalities in the highland province of Benguet will serve as pilot area the new farming technology that the Department of Agriculture is adopting.
“On Friday a successful test of Drone Spraying in the vegetable farms in La Trinidad witnessed by Benguet Governor Cresencio Pacalso and hundreds of curious vegetable farmers of the province,” he said.
The test was conducted by DMM Corporation of Japan.
Japan is a leader in crop management utilising drone technology. It is currently using unmanned vehicles for planting rice.
Spraying fertiliser and other chemicals such as pesticides is more efficient and faster when using drones. “It took the drone just a few minutes to cover a patch of vegetables and according to the data by the Japanese service provider company, it will only take 10 minutes to spray one hectare,” he said.
Piñol said that while the use of drones in agriculture is not new, it will be the first time that the Department of Agriculture will be utilising such remotely-controlled vehicle in farm operations.
“The agriculture department is already using drones for aerial surveys and geotagging operations, especially for farm to market roads,” he said.
He pointed out that farm management using drones would be big help especially in difficult to reach areas such as those in the farms in the Cordillera Region which are mostly carved out of the mountainsides.
The task of going up and down to spray patches of vegetables is a very costly operation for farmers and the drones will be a big advantage, he said.
Likewise drone farm management will be safer for the farmers.
“With the remote controlled drones, farmers also will no longer have direct contact with the biological or chemical mists emitted by hand-held sprayers,” he said.
The Philippines remains a predominantly agricultural country and is largely self-sufficient in farm products except on instances when it had to import cereal and dairy products because of unsteady supply.