Initially conceived for recreational and military purposes, now drones have evolved into essential tools in various sectors. Especially in agriculture they have heralded the onset of a remarkable revolution thanks to their ability to cover vast expanses of land, collect data, and perform tasks efficiently and in a more sustainable way. However, their success depends on responsible usage that adheres to regulations and respects ethical considerations.

Agricultural drone revolution

Traditional farming methods have long been a labour-intensive and time-consuming endeavour, often characterized by a lack of precision and substantial resource wastage. The arrival of unmanned aircraft systems equipped with sensors, cameras, and GPS systems has represented a notable solution to fill these gaps and generate a range of benefits. In the last years, drone manufacturers like DJI have embarked on introducing various drone models capable of performing soil fertilization, marking a significant advancement in agricultural technology.
By capturing high-resolution images and using infrared technology, drones can provide real-time data on water stress, nutrient deficiencies, and pest infestations, thus empowering farmers to make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, and pest control, ultimately increasing yields and reducing input costs. Drones offer the ability to target specific areas with the right amount of fertilizers, reduce wastage of resources, and lead to a more sustainable and eco-friendly farming approach. In addition, drones can generate detailed maps of farms and aid in efficient land utilization. Lastly, drones can be employed to locate and monitor animals, assess their health, and ensure their safety in extensive grazing areas.

Risks and hazards when using drones for agriculture

While the benefits of drones in agriculture are undeniable, responsible usage is paramount to ensure their positive impact and prevent potential issues. Indeed, drones used for agriculture often have such a size and weight potentially hazardous if not properly controlled: a malfunction or error during delivery could result in a heavy drone crashing and pose a danger to people, animals, and property on the ground. Fertilizers themselves can be hazardous substances: if a large drone carrying fertilizers crashes or releases its payload unexpectedly, it could lead to soil and water contamination, harming the environment and potentially affecting crops and livestock. Additionally, the airspace in agricultural areas is often shared with other aircrafts, including manned planes and helicopters. Safe drone operations require strict adherence to airspace regulations and protocols to prevent collisions and maintain overall aviation safety. How to ensure safe operations?

Prioritizing safe and responsible drone usage for agriculture

Operators should receive proper training to fly drones safely and effectively, learning flight controls and emergency procedures. Above all, they must understand and adhere to the regulations governing the drone usage, that means obtaining necessary permits and authorisations based on the specific operation to carry out. Farmers should respect the privacy of neighbouring community and ensure that their operation is mindful of local ecosystems and wildlife.
Drone manufacturers have also to take some responsibilities: they have to feature advanced navigation systems, payload capacity, and software algorithms enabling drone to execute accurate and controlled fertilizer distribution, while respecting the reference technological and industrial standards and legal requirements. Regular maintenance of the drones is also crucial to minimize the risk of mechanical failures during farming activities.

Experiencing safe agricultural drone operations with EuroUSC Italia

The team of EuroUSC Italia boots long and excellent experience in drone sector. It has assisted HPR s.r.l. in obtaining Italy’s very first authorization to operate the DJI Agras T30 drone. This was a groundbreaking result as the authorization is generic, so it grants operational freedom not limited to specific zones but encompassing all suitable Italian territories meeting the specified authorization requirements.

“This level of location freedom is unprecedented in Italy and opens up a world of opportunities for us to harness the full potential of drone technology. It wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts and expertise of the EuroUSC Italia team.” stated Stefano Allolio of HPR “The authorization obtained proves EuroUSC Italia’s capability to navigate the current regulatory landscape.”

EuroUSC Italia is also active in R&I projects on this topic: for example, it collaborates in Certiflight to provide reliable and real time data of UAS and ultralight aircrafts operating within the U-space, including agriculture applications.

If you interested in working with drones, EuroUSC Italia can guide you through the assessment of transformative business opportunities linked to the introduction of drones in your agricultural enterprise. On the contrary, if you already operate with drones or are a constructor, EuroUSC Italia is the ideal partner for assessing safe operations and complying with regulatory requirements.

Contact us for more details!