How Drones Are Reducing the Use of Chemical Pesticides

BY Isabella Lee
8 August 2019

Agricultural growers are striving to find alternatives to crop management that will allow them to protect their plants without harming the people who will eventually eat them. Chemical pesticides can be toxic for both people and the environment, so companies are taking action with the help of drones.

One company to do so recently is UAV-IQ, a veteran-owned agriculture technology company specializing in developing drone applications for farm management. UAV-IQ has developed a new form of pest management that uses drones to release beneficial insects over crops.

drones biocontrol

Drone releasing predatory mites on a strawberry field. 

Drone-based aerial biocontrol offers a new way for conventional and organic growers to combat pests, reduce the environmental impact of pesticide usage, and address a growing labor crunch.

Drones Provide a Sustainable Solution to Pest Control

The insects and biocontrol agents UAV-IQ distributes by drone are bred by Koppert Biological Systems. Koppert produces sustainable cultivation solutions for food crops and ornamental plants. They believe agriculture can be made healthier and safer by use of natural enemies to combat pest infestations, bumblebees for natural pollination, and biostimulants to support and strengthen crops both above and underground.

We’re extremely excited to team up with the premier company in biocontrol to help address the pest management needs of growers.

— Andreas Neuman, CEO, UAV-IQ.

Features and benefits of drone-based aerial biocontrol include:

  • Kill pests even when they’re hiding where chemicals can’t reach
  • More efficient distribution than traditional application techniques
  • Meaningfully reduce use of chemical pesticides
  • Reduce labor costs

Watch a UAV-IQ drone release beneficial insects across a farm in the video below:

Drone-based Aerial Biocontrol by Koppert & UAV-IQ

Chemical Pesticides Pose Risks to Human Health and the Environment

Research from Interdisciplinary Toxicology, published in the United States National Library of Medicine, states that there is “overwhelming evidence” that certain chemical pesticides pose health risks to humans and have negative effects on the environment (Aktar et al). Despite evidence that these chemicals are harmful, their use has continued under the impression that the economic benefit outweighs the associated health risks.

It’s true that chemical pesticides can improve crop productivity, reduce crop losses, prevent the spread of disease, and protect infrastructure from destructive insects. But what’s the cost? Chemical pesticide use has been linked to birth defects, hormone imbalances, cancer, and other illnesses. While the need to use chemical pesticides may not be able to be eradicated completely, there are safer alternatives that provide the same benefits.

Biological methods, such as those being used by UAV-IQ and Koppert Biological Systems pose much smaller risks to human health and the environment. Through the use of beneficial insects, predators, and parasites, we can reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

After extensive research, development, and field trials I’m confident that we are providing growers a high-quality service that will become a standard component of effective, modern integrated pest management plans.

— Ryan Hill, General Manager, Koppert Biological Systems

Drones are able to distribute biological control agents over agricultural fields by quick and cost-efficient means. Not only can it benefit our health, but it offers cost savings as well. Traditional means of treating crops with biocontrol are time consuming and labor intensive, as they are placed by hand by multiple workers. With a drone, biocontrol agents can be distributed faster and more accurately by a single drone operator.

Drones are transforming how agriculture and farming are done. Learn more about how drones are being used in agriculture and to restore the environment.

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