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National Agricultural Aviation Association eNewsletter
Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
May 7, 2020
NAAA Position on Spraying with Drones Echoed by Ohio Agricultural Engineers

NAAA, always working to diversify and enhance the professionalism of the aerial application industry, has been advocating drones for aerial imaging while being skeptical  about the limitations and issues related to their making efficacious and targeted aerial applications due to their limited size, speed and a dearth of data on their effectiveness. A recent article in Ohio’s Country Journal detailed some of the same issues raised by NAAA.


The article was written by three professors with the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University. The article gives an overview of the current status of drone use in agriculture and the historic and current use of drone spraying in Southeast Asia and the use of the Yamaha RMAX in California.


The article then goes on to acknowledge that spraying with a drone is different than spraying with either a ground rig or manned agricultural aircraft. This is a key point NAAA has made to federal and state regulatory agencies, highlighting that current labels don’t reflect this difference. The authors also point out that drift is a concern from spraying with drones. They mention that research is currently being done to measure deposition, coverage and drift from drones and compare drones with other application methods. They state “it is too soon to come to a conclusion on effectiveness and drift potential of drone sprayers.”


They also conclude that the economics of using a drone for applications will make it more likely they will be used for spot spraying rather than larger-scale broadcast applications. Perhaps the most important agreement with NAAA’s position on drone spraying is that the federal regulations related to pesticide applications need to be updated to include drones, and pesticides must be labeled appropriately for drone applications.  In January of this year, NAAA submitted a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to urge the EPA to promptly evaluate UAS’ ability to make safe and precise and efficacious applications of pesticides.

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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