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DroneUA: solution of field cultivation by drones up to 1 million hectares in Ukraine

Founded in 2014 by Valerii Iakovenko and Fevzi Ametov, DroneUA is an international system integrator of unmanned aerial vehicles. Being the importer and distributor of the most popular drones equipment and software products on the market – XAG, DJI, Parrot, Pix4D, Micasense. etc, the company also consists of engineering, production, and data center divisions. DroneUA provides tech and robotics solutions for agricultural, telecommunication, mining industry, and development businesses. 

With a team of high-skilled tech professionals the company could scan territories, create orthophoto plans, 3D models, providing geodetic works, application of drones in precision farming (farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops).

Due to the professional equipped drones which have GPS, sensors and cameras for detecting problems, unmanned aerial vehicles collect data that analyze using artificial intelligence and other software. DroneUA has its own division for processing satellite data and drone data where the tech specialists use machine learning technologies and visual pattern recognition to create their own methods and algorithms for information processing.

DroneUA opened a center for the development of new technological solutions with the main focus in robotics and adaptation of unmanned technologies under new standard sensors or payloads.

What is the challenge?

For a long time, Ukrainian farmers have been unable to apply plant protection products (PPP) due to high soil moisture. In the critical phases of plant development, it is essential to make plant protection products in time, but there are situations when it is impossible to work on the field via ground equipment (tractors, sprayers, cultivators). For example, sprayers begin to sink in dirt and wet ground. Accordingly, the process of applying PPP is stopped, which has negative impact on the future harvest.

What is the solution?

The use of drones solve this problem. Since 2019, spraying drones began active development in Ukraine, when unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are used to apply pesticides to the fields of Ukrainian farmers.

Drones provide timely spraying and do not depend on soil moisture. At the same time, they allow farmers to get maximum efficiency in the implementation of technological maps.

As part of the introduction of PPE, drones provide comprehensive plant protection. Immediately before applying, the field is prepared for work – perform contour measurements, mark all potentially dangerous areas or obstacles. Drones make tank mixes, where both herbicides and fungicides are used – drones can apply almost all pesticides.

The drones operate at an altitude of 1.5 to 5 meters, depending on the terrain and the task using disk atomizers. It is a new spraying technology that allows control of the droplet size from 85 to 550 microns. PPE is applied in the amount of active substance recommended by the manufacturer with a dilution of high concentration for ultra-low volume application.

The downward flow of drone spraying allows you to place the active substance on both the upper and lower part of the leaf, in contrast to the classic technique. In addition, the adjustable drop size and the ability of the solution to linger on the plant contribute to the fact that the drops do not roll off the leaf surface. It reduces the use of pesticides by 30% compared to conventional sprayers.

Thus, drones create the preconditions for more organic production and less burden on the land bank in terms of pesticide application.

What are the final results?

In early 2021, the world’s largest manufacturer of drones-sprayers XAG announced plans of protection products on an area of ​​600 thousand hectares in Ukraine. According to the current contractual obligations, this plan has already been implemented. It is expected that by the end of the year, the total number of fields cultivated by drones in Ukraine will approach 1 million hectares.

The use of spraying drones creates conditions for more sustainable development of agricultural production and allows small and medium farmers to access innovative technologies. Drones are highly mobile equipment that, in the context of a service crew or maintenance team, can be moved thousands of kilometers in literally 1 day, enabling farmers to receive services even if they have a small land bank.

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