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Agriculture spraying drones are being held back by regulations

Agriculture spraying drones in the UK are currently being held back by outdated rules and regulations. As a result of this, investment into the sector is also severely limited, holding back advancements and major benefits.

Researcher Jonathan Gill from the Harper Adams University in Newport, United Kingdom, shared this opinion earlier this week during a meeting of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.

During this meeting, Gill shared his comments to MPs and others in attendance on what the spray drones could be doing and how they can reduce the amount of fossil fuel-backed farming. He also shared how drones can spread pesticides and other products for much less and in shorter time periods.

When you hear of drones, the first roadblock you think of is the danger they can cause to other aircraft. In this scenario, this is not the case. Rather the issue is with the chemicals being sprayed out of the drones themselves. Even though using a drone with a set amount of chemical is a much more accurate method than some used today, it still hasn’t managed to make its way through the rules and regulations.

Gill also made it clear that there is a need for investment to get drones and smart spraying systems to a state that allows them to be ready for use from a regulatory standpoint. This will require a lot of testing and a certification process.

All-Party Group member Viscount Ridley finished with:

The use of drones in agriculture offers significant opportunities to improve the precision and efficiency of crop and livestock production, from accurate field mapping and management of crop health issues to monitoring grazing livestock. The APPG session, including Jonathan Gill’s presentation on the bureaucratic hurdles he has encountered in trialing the use of spray drones, highlighted several areas where the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in precision agriculture do not appear to be matched by a proportionate regulatory approach.

Check out some of our other coverage on agriculture drones.

Photo: The Scottish Farmer

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Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.