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Asia’s agriculture sector poses to be 2nd largest drone technology user  


The agriculture industry is poised to become the second largest user of drones in the next five years, says CropLife Asia’s Gustavo Palerosi Carneiro.

At a recent online forum, Carneiro said it comes as no surprise that the industry is embracing the use of drones since it addresses issues such as increasing pest pressure, rising production costs, dwindling natural resources and farmer health and safety. 

Drone technology offers precise and efficient application of pesticides, lower labor costs, reduced water consumption and reduced operator exposure. 

However, as different countries are at different stages of applying this technology, Carneiro underscored the need to promote a common understanding of drone benefits to sustainable initiatives, as well as to farmers’ safety and productivity. 

To do this, the CropLife expert cited the need for a strong cross-sector partnership between government and the agriculture industry. 

CropLife, for its part, will continue to share knowledge and best practices to manage the risks and concerns brought about by this technology, he said. 

Carneiro extended his appreciation for the strong interest in drone technology, saying that he was grateful to participants and government partners for opening the doors for new possibilities in the agriculture sector.

FPA cites ‘SOP’ for drone pesticide operation in the Philippines

The Philippines is no laggard to crafting policies for the use of drone technology in agriculture, according to Kris Anne Joi L. Minguez of the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA).  

In her talk on  the standard operating procedures for drone pesticide application in the country, she said that as early as 2018, the FPA already issued Memorandum Circular no. 28 s. 2018 entitled Good Agricultural Practices for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) for Use as Spraying. 

“All drone controllers, operators, service providers, staff, pesticide companies, and other individuals or firms who are involved in activities concerning drone spraying of pesticide for control of pests, diseases and weeds; and the application of liquid fertilizer,”   the FPA document said.

The FPA set the requirements for the drone use from ensuring the safety procedures in pesticide sprayings, safety in handling pesticides, as well as monitoring for pesticide safety after its application. 

The memorandum effectively set the guidelines for the safety procedures while spraying which includes the following conditions:

a. All drones intended for pesticide application should have Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment and other equipment including target flow controllers and flow meters; 

b. The drone operator must operate the unit in accordance with the operations of the manual; 

c. Flying altitude of drone sprayers is recommended to be 1 – 3 meters above the crop canopy; 

d. It should be observed that the spray drift doesn’t injure the neighboring crops outside the target area; 

e. There should be no spraying: When there is an upward air movement or where the temperature inversion prevents the spray cloud setting within the treated area;

f. Signage should be installed in strategic points to warn the public and surrounding community of spraying schedules.

The FPA also set guidelines for the safe handling of pesticides, from transport, handling, mixing and loading as well as ensuring the availability of first aid equipment and other tools to address mishaps in the operation.

Finally, a Drone Spray Final Report should be accomplished within 48 hours after spraying and kept for a period of two years by the drone operator.

According to Minguez, prior to becoming a drone operator company, they should first meet the qualifications, and fulfill the training requirements of the FPA. They should also be duly accredited to ensure that they comply with all the standards. 

“In the Philippines, we are proud that the FPA came up with comprehensive guidelines on the program so that we can also adopt the best practices of our Asian neighbors in terms of using drone technology. We can even share our own positive experiences,” Edilberto de Luna, executive director of CropLife Philippines said. 

How new technologies are helping farmers in China

In a recent online forum, experts Huizhu Yuan and Xiaojing Yan of China’s Institute of Plant Protection (IPP), and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) discussed positive experience of farmers in China on the use of new technologies.

In their talk, they discussed the major problems that affect agriculture workers in the country, particularly on the undesirable impacts of pesticide application, including health risks, environmental risks, and the inability of farmers to meet targets using the traditional way. 

According to the experts, there was a need to adopt technology for the new era or farming, given that the old ways are not meeting the demands of the modern times. Pests continue to wreak havoc on the farmers’ livelihood and pose a hindrance to their productivity. 

Among these new technologies is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones as a means to apply pesticides on farmlands which is a safer, more efficient and intelligent way to get the job done. 

How did China manage to grow plant protection UAV in a rapid rate? Multisectoral support. 

Yuan and Yan said  among the contributory factors to plant protection UAV utilization in China  were  encouragement from subsidy policies, which entitled farmers to a 30-50 percent subsidy for the purchase of drones for plant protection’ enterprise innovation, supporting research projects and other supporting standards.

These ensured that the benefits of drone technology was maximized and that farmers were getting the best output in terms of safety and productivity. 

They also get to cover more area and address issues of limited manpower. 

Their farmlands were covered by pesticides which were distributed evenly at a shorter time. 

Issues of pesticide safety was also addressed by guidelines. Studies also guided farmers on the proper tools and pesticides that work best for their farms. 

Research also provided evidence on the effectiveness of drone technology use for crop protection. Studies covered tea plantations, potato and wheat farms that suffered from aphids and midges.

In terms of enterprise innovations, 121 companies and 38 universities have formed the Aviation Alliance in support of UAV for plant protection.

Different models of drones have been developed for different uses to give farmers a wide array of options. Risk assessments are also conducted regularly under the comprehensive program.

In terms of UAV as a tool for the future of agriculture, the Chinese experts underscored that it is a useful tool because of its intelligence and precision. It also gives the advantages of convenience, labor efficiency and sustainability. It can also contribute to the pesticide zero growth act.

Joe Maling, vegetable farmer, have started practicing proper rinsing and disposal of empty pesticide containers

Triple rinse, triple wins

By Mycah Figueroa

"Sadyang napakahalaga ang hatid sa aming maggugulay ang TRIPLE RINSE program ng BASF, kasi naiiwasan ma-expose sa natirang residue galing sa bote ng gamot ang aming bukirin at daanan ng tubig na nagdudulot ng polusyon…naging aral sa amin na pahalagahan ang lupa at kapaligiran para sa darating pang henerasyon."

So shares Joe Maling, an eggplant farmer from Sta. Maria, Pangasinan who learned about the importance of safe farming practices from BASF’s Triple Rinse, Triple Wins campaign in the Philippines.

However, Joe is only one of the few farmers who practice triple rinsing. In a survey conducted by BASF in March, only 20 out of 70 farmers know about triple rinsing, and a whopping 70 per cent  simply dispose their empty pesticide bottles.

Any container with unused pesticide, including residue, is classified as hazardous waste: it has the potential to harm humans, animals, and the environment.However, properly rinsed containers are considered safe enough to go to an approved recycling center or landfill.

Indeed, when an empty pesticide container is rinsed for 30 seconds, for three times, it will be enough to classify it as a ‘non-hazardous” material.

Triple rinsing can be done in a few simple steps as shown above.

But despite the triple rinsing’s benefits, a significant number of Filipino farmers are still unaware of this important practice. To address this awareness gap, BASF’s Agriculture Solutions team reached out to farmers across different regions to teach them the S-L-A  -- : Show, Learn, and Apply – approach.

The module uses a mix of hands-on learning and live discussion in one-on-one or small group settings. Activities are documented in a Stewardship App to track progress. To date, we have recorded 2,181 farmer-participants.

In addition, BASF also launched the Triple Rinse Triple Wins promo to encourage triple rinsing among farmers. Participants are given points for every triple-rinsed bottle collected.

Nagpapasalamat ako sa technician ng BASF dahil itinuro niya sa amin ang tamang paraan ng pagtriple rinsed ng mga basyo ng pestisidyo”. Jonjon Cando, farmer from Nueva Ecija

The Triple Rinsing project is an important piece of BASF’s sustainability initiatives in the country. It is linked to the company’s Project Garapa that addresses the responsible disposable of empty pesticide bottles. BASF works with organizations involved in the co-generation of plastic waste, such as cement companies and social enterprises.

Thus, triple-rinsed plastic bottles may be processed into usable materials, such as planks for relief shelters.

It does not only creates awareness for triple rinsing and safe disposal practices, it  also provide a way for Filipino farmers to take an active role in addressing the country’s plastic waste problem.

About BASF in the Philippines
In the Philippines, BASF has been supporting manufacturers from various industries since 1963. Today, BASF is a leading supplier of chemicals for industries, including construction and coatings, automotive, nutrition & health, home & personal care, and agriculture. The company  also operates an agricultural research station in the country which conducts research, laboratory studies and field testing of novel technologies. Further information is available on the internet at www.basf.com/ph.

Experts tackle advantages of drone technology

Drone technology use in Asia is steadily gaining momentum as the agriculture sector begins to embrace the advantages it offers to overall productivity. 

During the recent online forum hosted by CropLife Asia, experts from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines discussed the application of pesticide application using drone technology, as well as the regulations being imposed on the approach.

In his presentation, Hidetaka Kobayashi, PhD, the director of the Agricultural Chemicals Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan that like the Philippines, their country has to find creative solutions given the average age of Japanese farmers of 68 as of 2020.

Drone technology has been adopted since 2016 for smaller plots even in mountainous areas, as well as vegetable fields and fruits. In adopting drone technology, Dr. Kobayashi said among the primary considerations that the government took in the use of drones are safety of flight, and the safety of application.

In Korea, Hyun Ho Noh of the Rural Development Administration of Korea discussed the Aviation Safety Act and requirements for registration of commercial pesticide with UAVs, which covers criteria of permission, safety permissions, license classifications, and flight permission.

South Korea also set in place registration for the aerial spraying pesticides through UAVs including test procedure for registration pesticide, preparation of field trial, field trials for pesticide residue in crop with UAVs and report preparation.

In Taiwan, regulations have already been set in place for drone application, including the training and examination of the sprayers, agro pesticides spraying service technician licenses, acquisition of professional drone operator certificate, drone flight activity, and application.

Requirements are also set in place for those who will be using drone technology such as records of agro-pesticide spray, agro-pesticide registration and data requirement for drone application.

Meanwhile, on the home front, the use of drone technology is regulated by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, a technically-oriented agency, attached No.1144 to the Department of Agriculture, is mandated to regulate and ensure safety in handling & dealing with fertilizers, pesticides, and other agricultural input; to support the food security, and to develop F&P industry.

In applying drone technology, three steps are required – accreditation, product registration and label expansion, as well as experimental use permit. These three steps comprehensively outlines safety protocols and for flight, and ensures the safety and quality of the products being applied, before granting permission to operate.

“As we can see, the Philippines is not far behind our Asian neighbors in the application of drone technology in our own farms, “according to CLP Executive Director Edilberto de Luna. “Through these discussions, we learn that their experiences are not far from the experiences of our own agriculture industry.”

De Luna said that they are hopeful that more farmers “will be able to benefit from drone technology as we move forward.” 

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