Alathur farmers save money as drones take up task of spraying pesticides, fertilizers

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Alathur (Palakkad): Drones have arrived in the paddy fields of Alathur too. Fertilizers as well as pesticides were sprayed with the drones here, under an initiative of the agriculture development project 'Nira' and the Haritha Mitra Society.

The organic pesticide named ‘Beauveria’ was developed by the Organic Pest Control Department of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU). The fertilizer--a mixture of Boron, Silica, Potash and other substances—to increase the weight of paddy grain. For use in the drones, the pesticide and fertilizer were converted into micro sprays with the help of nanotechnology. The spraying was done before paddy spikes appeared.

Drones also save farmers a significant amount of money. For instance, while under the normal method 100 litres of the mixture is needed to cover an acre of paddy field, the amount used by a drone is a mere 20 litres. Another advantage is that as the water used is less, the fertilizer covers the paddy spikes more effectively, increasing the yield.

The drones were earlier successfully deployed in the ‘kole’ paddy fields of Thrissur district. Designed by Kakkanad-based Robonice Drone Systems under the specifications set by KAU and the state Agriculture Department, the ‘Agro drone’ is ideal for the Kerala climate, said officials. Manual control of the drone can also be done in case of an emergency, they added.

It has been decided to spray fertilizers and organic pesticides in 3,100 acres of paddy fields in Alathur Assembly constituency using drones. While farmers are charged Rs 700 for spraying their field with the drones, members of Haritha Mitra Society would get a subsidy of Rs 200.

The spraying via drone was inaugurated by MLA K D Prasenan. Panchayat president T G Gangadharan presided over and Associate Director of Research, KAU Dr Madhu Subrahmanian was the chief guest in the inaugural ceremony. Those who spoke at the event include Assistant Director, Agriculture Rani Prakash; project convenor M V Resmi; panchayat vice-president K Rama and others.

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