1. Agriculture World

SoP for Use of Drones in Agriculture Released  

In line with the Indian government’s aim to doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and its thrust on modernization of agriculture, the central government has released a standard operating procedure (SoP) for the use of drones in agriculture.

Arun Shrivastav
Drones in Agriculture Released
Drones in Agriculture Released

In line with the Indian government’s aim to doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and its thrust on modernization of agriculture, the central government has released a standard operating procedure (SoP) for the use of drones in agriculture. 

The SoP for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones in the farm sector was released by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday (December 21). 

Agricultural drones are used for precision farming, mapping, and spraying. They can be used for a variety of purposes including optimization of seed, water, and fertilizer inputs, mitigating quickly to threats such as weeds, fungi, and pests, saving time by crop-scouting and yield mapping. The Union Agriculture Minister reminded how drones were used to tackle locust attacks in various parts of the country some time back.   

The agriculture minister said in an official statement that the adoption of drone technology in the farm sector will benefit the farmers. He also reiterated the government’s resolve to increase the farmers’ income two-fold by 2022. In particular, he mentioned the formation of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and Farmer Producer Organization (FPOs) as the vehicles that will immensely benefit small farmers. 

Tomar said in his statement that the government has been promoting the use of new technologies to provide sustainable solutions to increase productivity and efficiency in the farming sector. 

According to 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 agriculture ministry has been working on developing the SoP for the use of drones in agriculture for quite some time. In July 2022, it put out a draft SoP and had sought suggestions from the public. 

While the use of drones have become necessary given its benefits and widespread adoption in agriculture in many countries, a SoP is necessary for its safe use. 

The government has already notified Drone Rules 2021 that make it easy to own and operate drones by people and companies. While the criteria for permission to use drones have been made simpler, the fees have been brought down to nominal levels. 

Modern drones have features such as multispectral image cameras that can be used to monitor stress, growth, and yield of crops. Drones with necessary accessories can also be used to spray herbicides, fertilizers, and water. 

“The farmers face many problems like unavailability or high cost of labors, 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. Use of drones in agriculture may also give ample opportunities to provide employment to people in rural areas,” the statement said. 

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