Spray drones are one of the hottest topics in agriculture, but there is still plenty of skepticism to go around. Here are some of the most common questions and responses that we hear from farmers today.
“That thing’s not big enough to get anything done”
“You can’t get anything done with one of those spray drones…” Maybe you’ve heard it said, or even thought that yourself. The reality is, that the capability of our spray drones might surprise you. Many customers have the goal to spray all their corn fungicide. Think of how many acres of corn you can plant on your best day in the spring. For most operations that is less than 350 acres per day. With the Agras T40, at a labeled application rate of 2 gallons per acre, 350 acres per day is achievable with an experienced operator and optimal conditions. If you can spray as fast as you can plant, you’ll have no trouble covering all your acres while they are in the optimal fungicide window. Many customers report being able to spray a square 40-acre field in 1 hour. With a 10.5 gallon tank, the Agras T40 can spray 5 acres per load. This means the operator would fill the drone 8 times in 40 acres, which might sound like a lot when compared to traditional equipment, but a tank refill and battery swap takes less than 1 minute. This makes time spent loading the drone less than 10 minutes total for a 40 acre field.
“I guess it would be alright for little patches”
One of the most common misconceptions about spray drones, is that they are only suitable for small fields. This is simply not the case. At an application rate of 2 gallons per acre, the Agras T40 can make a full round down and back, on a field up to ¾ mile long. The T40 has no trouble with any field with larger fields, and in fact like any equipment, is more efficient in large fields than it is in smaller fields. With capability of up to 40 acres per hour, spray drones can spray most any field, no matter the size.
“2 Gallons per Acre?!?!”
2 Gallons per acre? How can spray drones get enough coverage with only 2 Gallons per acre? Most of us are used to traditional ground/boom sprayers, with an output of 10-20 gallons per acre. It can be hard to understand how less water sprayed from a drone can provide an effective application. If you consult most popular fungicide labels, you will find a recommendation of a minimum spray volume of 2 Gallons per acre for aerial applications. This is because aerial application has the benefit of pressurized, turbulent air from the drones propellors to spread and distribute the pesticide. We are injecting our 2 gallons of pesticide solution into this pressurized air to provide good coverage of our crops. This is similar to how a can of spray paint works. Pressurized air exiting the tip of the spray can allows for coverage of what you are painting with very little liquid paint actually being applied. If you are painting with a brush or roller, you will need to apply more liquid paint to achieve the same amount of coverage, when compared to a can of spray paint. Just like paint brushes/rollers, ground/Boom sprayers rely on excess liquid, referred to as carrier, to dilute and spread the pesticide to provide good coverage.
Not only can the drone provide adequate coverage with less water, the high pressure turbulent air also provides for better penetration of our spray solution into the crop canopy when compared to a boom sprayer. This can be important for protecting the ear leaf of a corn plant, or the middle canopy of a soybean plant from disease.
“Don’t you need a license to fly those things?”
Its true, that there are some certification and licensing requirements, however, these requirements are much easier and faster to navigate than they used to be. Additionally, we are here to help you through the process every step of the way and make it as painless as possible. Start to finish we are seeing 6-12 weeks to achieve all the necessary certifications. Each individual pilot will need a part 107 remote pilot certificate, a 3rd class aviation medical certificate, and a state specific pesticide applicator license. Then, the business or farm will need a FAA Part 137 Operating Certificate and will need to register each drone with the FAA. Finally, we get asked a lot about insurance for spray drones, and we have that covered as well. We can put you in contact with a company that specializes in drone sprayer insurance that will get you the exact coverage you need. We have helped numerous operators through this process and look forward to help you get certified as well!
“That thing has to be tough to fly!”
This one couldn’t be farther from the truth. Our drones are extremely simple to operate and do most of the work themselves. Its our job as the drone pilot to ensure we give the drone a safe mission to execute, but if we do our job, the drone takes care of the flying and spraying with little to no input required. With our training, we ensure you are completely comfortable and confident in your drone’s operation so you can take off with confidence.
“I cant afford one of those things”
There are a lot of factors that go into a spray drone purchase decision. The first thing that most people look at is the custom application fee savings. This is valid, and can definitely add up, however there are other important points to consider. What about the potential of improved yields, from a perfectly timed fungicide application? What about a field that got “missed” a few years ago and didn’t get treated at all? What about the ability to quickly and easily put out your own on farm product trials to evaluate which product(s) make you the most money? What about the ability to spot spray weed without leaving wheel tracks? What about the ability to seed cover crops into standing corn or beans? With a price point less than half the cost of a new pickup truck a drone sprayer can fit into most farm budgets.
“What happens when I crash it?”
Everyone who’s ever operated equipment knows, “stuff happens”. When it does, Green Creek Drones is here for you. We have full time technician staff and a complete parts inventory, in Effingham IL. Our technicians are capable of any possible repair on our drones. We do our best to keep multiple of every part on the drone so we can get you back in the air quickly in the event that “stuff” happens to you.
“It’s a cool toy, but its not tough enough to spray all we need it to”
These are not the little drones your kids crash into the ceiling fan in the living room. Our spray drones are built tough and are serious work machines. Green Creek Drones sprayed over 28,000 acres in 2023 with our fleet of Agras T40’s and they look and function as well today as they did when they were new. You can expect multiple years of service from these modern drone sprayers.