Innovational perspectives of PPP application

The application of PPP is one of the main operation on the field, the usual and necessary, from which you will not escape anywhere. However, is it possible to give the old technology a new form - more efficient and modern?

New-old technology

The quality of chemical processing directly depends on the thickness of the coating of the treated surface with working solution. The more drops will reach its goal - the more effective the chemical treatment. The problem of increasing the density of droplets was long solved in the easiest way. Through the application of a large amount of water and the use of "drug-adherents", agronomists began to receive high-quality and even coverage. However, science does not stand still. "And what if you do not increase the volume of liquid, and reduce the drop itself?". This approach has become a key to UMO technology.

Ultra-volumetric spraying (UMO) is a technology that involves applying PPP with a minimum volume of a working solution - from 0.5 to 5 liters per hectare. The size of the drop of about 100 micrometers allows for good penetration of the drug into the stomata of even very dense crops. Nowadays abroad and in our country more and more sprayers are used for ultra-volume spraying, with rotating liquid sprayers. Solution is fed under low pressure through regulated jets, in which openings are much larger than in slotted hydraulic sprayers. Further, the liquid enters the disk or mesh drum, which breaks it into a drop of a certain size.

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This gave us the opportunities:

  • the liquid evenly covers the entire surface to be treated;
  • due to its light weight, the drops do not roll down;
  • drops fall clearly into the stomata of the leaf;
  • since the solution has become smaller, the need for water and for large volume tanks is decreasing.

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Result of spraying sunflower with Agras MG-1 drone

In fact, the UMO method has been known since the middle of the last century. Almost all Clients with whom I have been working have already heard about it. However, this approach has not yet become popular in us, because it requires high accuracy of work.

This is not to say about Japan - the homeland of UMO. The need for this technology lies in the geographical conditions of this country. Growing products there are forced on small plots. The size of rice "checks" does not exceed 5 hectares, so it makes no sense to use large sprayers on such sites. The plants were cultivated manually, and later the small manual aviation came to replace manual spraying. But the plane is not able to lift large volumes of water into the air. The question was: how to get a better result with less water. Japanese developers have decided to try to replace small aircraft with driven drones.

The application of PPP by drones has found its implementation in the US, but for other reasons. Using large volumes of working solutions PPP was impossible due to the environmental problem that faced American agrarians - this is a lack of water. States such as Arizona, California, Nevada, which produce sixth of all US agricultural products, have tangible problems with ensuring water production. The reason is known: the amount of rainfall that feeds groundwater is reduced, and water consumption increases with an increase in population density. Moreover, problems arise not only with the amount of water, but also with its delivery to the field, because large-sized sprayers need additional water supply.

On the other hand, the United States is a country where GMO products have gained the most popularity in the world. This affected the technology of PPP application in the USA. In 1996, the GMO-giant, Monsanto, launched the genetically modified soybean with a new feature called Roundup Ready. "Roundup" is a trademark of glyphosate herbicide. Roundup Ready-plants contain a complete copy of the gene of the soil bacteria transferred to the soy gene. This made them resistant to the glyphosate herbicide used to control weeds. The gene of herbicide resistance allows the plants to be cultivated after germination up to the flowering stage. Which means - no longer need to make tank solutions with a moderate ratio of water and glyphosate, in order not to burn soy together with weeds. Glyphosate can now be added pure, without mixing with plenty of water. Consequently, spraying and airplanes are also becoming unnecessary and drone appear on the field.

Drones were able to solve the problems that arise when using small aircraft.

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Since the very first to this technology turned to Asia, the first drones for the application of PPP appeared there. Yamaha R-Max is a Japanese remotely piloted aircrafts designed by Yamaha Motor Company in the 1990s. A drone can carry a load weighing up to 28 kg. Thanks to a two-cylinder engine, the drone can fly at a speed of 105 km/h, and the battery is enough for one hour. The machine is equipped with two tanks and three nozzles. For refueling use a mixture of gasoline and oil, like a gasoline sprayer or lawn mower.

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Yamaha R-MAX

Its famous relative from China — Agras MG-1. Rapid field crop processing is its main purpose. For this purpose, the drum is equipped with a special 10-liter tank. According to representatives of the developer, Agras MG-1 is 10 times more effective than manual spraying.. The maximum speed of the device reaches 28 km/h, with the processing capacity of the fields is from 3 to 6 hectares per hour. It only has 12 minutes to fully charge the battery, but when it comes back to the starting point and replaces the battery, the Agras MG-1 is able to continue processing the field from where it stopped. I myself had to work with this device. Fungicides were applied to sunflower, sorghum, soybeans and wasted barley drying. These were demo crops in Mykolaiv and Kyiv region. Because of their small size it was economically unprofitable to drive large sprayers or use small aircraft.

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Drone Agras MG-1

 

Ukrainian analogues

In Ukraine, this technology is only developing, and companies that provide such services on an industrial scale are not yet available. The above-mentioned Asian solutions for Ukrainian agrarians are difficult to access because of their extraordinary value. Drum «Yamaha» costs almost 2.5 million UAH «Agras» costs 385 000 UAH, but its performance is much lower.

Therefore, domestic companies began to design drones. Among those who work in this direction should be called the Ukrainian company Kray Technologies. Its specialists are developing innovative solutions for farmers - unmanned aerial vehicles with their own software. The cost of one drone is now approximately 50 000 USD. The Ukrainian drone is equipped with a computer vision system that allows you to recognize the obstacles and automatically evade them. The cameras are capable of recognizing relief at a distance of 10-70 meters, lidar - 5-25 meters. In the future, the models will install a module "computer vision", which will work in the night mode. Drone duty cycle: 15 minutes - 1 flight and 1 minute service. It processes up to 14 hectares per cycle. Battery charge time is up to 60 minutes. Productivity - from 27 to 48 ha per hour, about 250 ha per day. So far, the drone is only available for participation in pilot projects. Serial production of drone is expected in September 2018.

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A drone by Kray Technologies

Another Ukrainian company that develops drone for the application of PPP — Aerodrone. At the moment, they have three unmanned aerial vehicles capable of processing 1,500 hectares a day, and the cost of processing one hectare is $ 10, while the field processing using standard AN-2 type aircraft is about $ 10-15 + the cost of spent fuel, which is much more expensive. The new drone DR-60 — is the largest unmanned vehicle of the company for PPP application. Its empty take-off weight is 85 kg, and the payload can reach 60 kg. The width of the wings is 6.5 m. On departure, it processes 25 hectares during pre-ground preparation for 30 minutes. Maximum flight time is 90 minutes. It can develop speeds up to 130 km/h with a minimum flight height of 5 m. Positioning systems - GPS, RTK GPS. It has both manual control and autopilot. With manual control, the range of signal transmission on the remote reaches 3 km, with automatic - 30 km.

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Drone by Aerodrone


Conclusions and perspectives

Application of PPP by drones is a new technology for Ukraine, unusual and still not very popular. The reason is lack of awareness of agrarians about modern solutions and the lack of these solutions in the market. But the demand for the use of drones for the PPP application is still, albeit delayed. This technology is attractive for small and medium-sized Ukrainian farmers engaged in niche crops with high marginality. Drones can effectively process orchards, beans, hops, asparagus, and blueberries. Without use of a cumbersome sprayer or obsolete small aircraft.

Large agrarian holdings are able to influence the demand for this technology. They have the financial opportunity to participate in the development of technology for the PPP drones, to test and improve it. The support of drone producers is also a way to increase the efficiency of their own production indicators.

Development of solutions for RPA, their testing, creation of working algorithms - an attractive direction and for PPP producers. Such companies have demonstration fields - experimental land plots where, under identical conditions, crops are grown for seed testing, preparation and protection systems. These areas are so small that they are inefficiently treated separately by the sprayer or small aircraft. This requires either manual processing (which, due to a huge number of sites, takes a lot of time), or drones.

The development of the technology of spraying drones with agrarian holdings and producers of PPP will accelerate the emergence of a full-fledged offer on Ukrainian market. Moreover, according to our forecasts next year will become a breakthrough in the popularity of drones. This contributes to the fact that the application of PPP drones in a couple of years will become a common procedure for Ukrainian farmers.

Vadym Ostapenko
Author
Vadym Ostapenko
Adviser

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