Local News: Aerial applications using drone technology

Locally it’s not only the bees taking advantage of the sunny weather to irritate picnic goers, commercial drones are a dime a dozen in South Africa too.

This is especially true since the first commercial licence for crop spraying was issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to Geomatics. Geomatics, based in KwaZulu-Natal, plans to use drones to apply herbicides; the potential for the technology to be used in such a way couldrevolutionise Agri-forestry Sector. With a second licence pending (the applicant is completing a six-month probation period), the use of drones for spraying is more reality than fantasy.

But what does it mean for the sector?

Drones in themselves are nothing new; they have been operating in South Africa for a number of years undertaking a multitude of activities from surveying purposes to sport photography. It is their potential as a pesticide application technology that is novel and causing a stir. For this reason, TIPWG would like members to take a precautionary approach. Make sure any operators have all the necessary licences and that product labels are followed accordingly to ensure adherence under Act 36 of 1947 and Act 13 of 2009.

TIPWG plans to produce a Drone Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) once the necessary investigations have been undertaken. While we are asking members to apply a cautionary approach to the technology, we certainly do not think the industry should turn their backs on it – we simply need to proceed with care. Click here to see them in operation.

Picture source: Business Insider

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