RESEARCH: Spraying Drones Help to Reduce Operator Exposure
It might sound a bit crazy...
The results seem logical. When applying pesticides with a backpack / knapsack sprayer, of course they are more exposed to the chemical... it is literally sloshing around on their back - they are mere feet away from the nozzle tip.
Whereas with a drone sprayer (RPAAS), the operator is still mixing/loading the chemical, but during the actual application, that person is a safe distance away during the application. It is also good to point out the sheer efficiency of using a spraying drone instead of a backpack. This study made note of that as well - tromping through muddy fields isn't easy, or fast. The drone is unaffected by (and not compacting) the ground below. Spraying drones are also agile and can reach difficult areas (due to soil condition, terrain, or otherwise) easier than most conventional methods.
This study was part of a larger research project conducted in Asia by Bayer. They were looking at the following categories:
- Bio-Efficacy: Are efficacy levels as good as with conventional spraying?
- Operator Safety: Can drone applications improve safety of the operator?
- Dietary Safety: Are crop residues different due to low water volume applications?
- Environmental Safety: How can drift be limited to avoid phytotox or undue environmental exposure?
What about offsite drift?
This has been an important area of research. By and large, studies show that drift can be effectively mitigated by selecting the appropriate nozzle for the job. You can see indicators both in this research along with this article.