KAU gets ₹65 lakh for research in drone-based technologies

Varsity to extend trial to pineapple, banana, ginger

June 26, 2022 06:51 pm | Updated 06:51 pm IST - Thrissur

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, has sanctioned ₹65 lakh to Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) for research and demonstration of drone-based technologies in agriculture in Kerala.

An amount of ₹35 lakh has been allocated for carrying out research on drones and the remaining ₹30 lakh has been earmarked for Krishi Vigyan Kendras in Wayanad, Palakkad, Kollam and Kottayam for carrying out large-scale demonstrations on use of drones in farmers’ fields.

Since 2019

The KAU initiated trials using drones in 2019 and standardised various flight and spray parameters for spraying with drones. The initial trials were with biocontrol agents such as Pseudomonas fluorescens and micronutrient formulations such as Sampoorna for rice. From 2020, start-ups mentored by the KAU initiated sprays using drones in various crops, especially rice, based on the procedures standardised by the university in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Various Krishi Vigyan Kendras also carried out on-farm trials (OFTs) and front-line demonstrations with drones in various parts of the State. Spraying of Sampoorna micronutrient using drones resulted in an increase in yield to the tune of 20-22%. Drone-based spraying of entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana could reduce rice bugs in Palakkad by 80%.

Faster work

Trials also indicated that drones can complete the spraying 24 times faster than manual labour. Till date nearly 16,580 acres of paddy has been sprayed with biocontrol agents and water-soluble fertilizers using drones, say KAU sources.

The KAU also played a role in the management of bacterial leaf blight outbreak in paddy in Thrissur last year by spraying with drones. All these efforts were recognised, leading to this funding by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India, the KAU sources added.

The funding will give a fresh impetus to the research and extension capabilities of the KAU in employing drones, said R. Chandra Babu, Vice Chancellor, KAU. He said the funding would be utilised for extending trials of drones to crops such as pineapple, banana, ginger, turmeric and tapioca. KAU scientists would also venture into crop monitoring and surveillance using drones to give a fillip to precision agriculture.


Caption: Drones have been used for spraying in fields.

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