Automated pollination of orchard crops via unmanned aircraft systems
12 Jul 2018
Dropcopter's mission is the automated pollination of orchard crops via unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); farming efficiency, the promotion of new technologies, and healthy crop yield growth. Their technology is applicable to apples, cherries, avocados and pears, with the ability to spread any granular or powdered material with tactical accuracy. Potential applications include seed dispersal, beneficial insect release, leaf nutrients and pest deterrent. In early 2015, Dropcopter completed its patent pending prototype, and conducted the first ever UAS pollination of orchards crops, boosting crop set by 10%. Dropcopter's 2015 - 2017 trials showed a dramatic crop set increase of 10% in almonds, scalable across large areas.
According to sUAS News, the company has now demonstrated an effective increase of 25% to 60% pollination (cherries and almonds) using autonomous pollinating drones. These results indicate that in cold weather, and during bee shortages there is a viable alternative to dependency on bees for pollination.
Co-founder and CTO Adam Fine of Dropcopter "We have a patent-pending device which accurately distributes a measured amount of pollen directly over the tree canopy. The drone flies an autonomous prewritten mission optimizing its speed to deliver the most effective application. We are the first real-world testing of automated aerial pollination in the nation."