UAVs to the rescue of farming community

Offer solution to shortage of skilled workers

Updated - April 09, 2022 07:25 pm IST

Published - April 09, 2022 06:59 pm IST - KALPETTA

At a time when the farming community is facing several challenges, especially shortage of skilled workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are offering solution to many of their issues.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Ambalavayal under the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) recently demonstrated its modern rice technology protocol using UAV at three sites in Wayanad recently.

The programme was aimed at sensitising the farming community to achieve maximum production from a limited area and how to tide over the shortage of trained workers.

During the programme, KVK authorities demonstrated the spraying of liquid pseudomonas, a biocontrol agent against bacterial leaf blight and blast diseases, as well as Sampoorna, a micronutrient for rice cultivation.

They also sprayed potassium nitrate, a fertilizer, at the grain filling stage using the UAV. The KVK hired a UAV from a private agency in Kochi for demonstration purposes, which charges ₹400 to ₹600 for spraying inputs on an acre.

“Usually, we have to depend on skilled workers to apply pesticides or biocontrol agents on one acre. It will take nearly a day and costs around ₹700 to ₹800. But the UAV will take around 30 to 40 minutes to spray the input on five acres,” says U. Rajan, president of the Mangottu Padashekhara Samiti at Arimula.

“If a group of farmers under a collective use the technology on a large area, it will help save time, effort, and money. We are planning to hire a UAV for the ’Nanja cultivation next year,” he says.

“Farmers are often forced to skip proper management practices owing to dearth of trained workers. Now, they can execute all these using modern technology,” says K. Markose, secretary of the Kolavally Padashekhara Samiti at Mullankolly. “If the government provides incentives for the use of drones, it will be a great help for the farming community,” he says.

The university has submitted a proposal for procuring a dozen drones with Central assistance with a view to standardising the protocol for spraying agrochemicals, biopesticides, and foliar nutrients in major field crops of the State, says Vice Chancellor R. Chandra Babu.

Organising demonstration programmes on the use of UAVs for farming communities; establishing custom hiring centres for UAVs in KVKs; providing training to rural youth for operating and maintaining UAVs; and enhancing productivity through efficient delivery of agrochemicals are the other objectives, says Dr. Chandra Babu.

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