Drone Targets Weeds With Precision
After concluding its initial field trials in 2018, agtech startup Rantizo says it’s successfully proved drones provide a spray solution when field’s demand an application but aren’t fit for tractors or sprayers.
“We did our first fully automated trial after a downpour, when it was too wet to even walk along the field’s grass border, there was no way equipment could have gotten into the field,” says Rantizo CEO Michael Ott.
Rantizo’s technology platform includes drones, sprayers and cartridges. This package contains an electrostatic sprayer to charge the agrichemical, which causes it to wrap around leaves. This means only the active ingredient is applied and even coverage is achieved with low application volumes (down to 1 ounce per acre). By not requiring water, this approach overcomes the low payload limitation of drones in commercial spray applications.
“We’re designing a solution that addresses the fact there isn’t enough labor in ag,” Ott says. “We’re automating the spraying process as much as possible, which will also lead to a more precise application, better use of chemical and increased safety.”
In regards to the other limitation often cited with drones used in spraying–regulations–Ott shares his optimism and a funny story.
“The drone industry is catching up with the tools we need, and hopefully regulations will come along with that,” he says. “And I heard a story of a drone sprayer technically being classified as a crop duster, which meant the drone was required to have a seat belt and an operator’s manual on board.”