Over 1,500 drone pilots,1,000 crop protection teams and 3,000 drones have been spraying cotton fields in China since late August.
XAG has initiated its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) spraying operation – “Take Off for Harvest Time” for the third consecutive year in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Since late August, over 1,500 drone pilots and 1,000 crop protection teams with approximately 3,000 sets of XAG P Series Plant Protection UAS have convened in Xinjiang to help local cotton growers spray defoliant and boost crop yields.
1.3 million hectares
Up to mid-September, 1 million hectares of cotton fields have been defoliated with XAG’s crop spraying drones. It is estimated that the accumulated service record of this year’s operation will exceed 1.3 million hectares, a 200% increase compared to 2018 when the company served approximately 0.45 million hectares.
Defoliation is the harvest-aid operation which applies chemical to accelerate cotton boll opening and encourage cotton leaves to drop from plants within a specific short period time. It is a necessary process to ensure timely, intensive mechanical harvesting and reduce impurities in cotton fibre.
According to XAG, 1 P Series Plant Protection UAS can reach the spraying efficiency of 10 hectares per hour, which usually takes 60 workers to complete.
Real-time Kinematic (RTK) navigation and Intelligent Rotary Atomisation Spraying system are 2 core technologies that enable XAG’s drone to precisely deliver pesticides and fertilisers.
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The atomisation spraying system is engineered to atomise liquids into micro-level droplets. The drone propellers can generate powerful downdraft to reduce drifting and ensure that the atomised defoliant evenly adhere to the plant surface. - Photo: XAG
Prevent overlaps or misses
As a centimetre-level positioning technique, RTK is used to correct meter-level errors and enhance the accuracy of position data in the Global Positioning System (GPS). Equipped with RTK, drones can conduct operations on the pre-set flight paths to prevent overlaps or misses while automatically avoid any surrounding obstacles within the croplands to ensure flight safety.
The atomisation spraying system is engineered to atomise liquids into micro-level droplets. The drone propellers can generate powerful downdraft to reduce drifting and ensure that the atomised defoliant evenly adhere to the plant surface. This has proved to conserve 90% agricultural water and save 30% defoliant, compared to the traditional approaches, says XAG.
Precision spraying in cotton fields
In China, cotton harvesting machines have been widely adopted to improve cost-efficiency. Cotton defoliation prior to the machine harvest used to heavily rely on manual or tractor spraying, both of which either increase the cost of production or result in soil compaction and yield loss because of crop damage.
XAG developed a fully autonomous agriculture drone specifically designed for efficient, precise crop spraying operation in 2013. To cope with local farmers’ increasing demands for UAS cotton defoliation, the company deployed over 1,000 plant protection drones from all across China and initiated the operation ‘Take Off for Harvest Time’ in the rural area of Xinjiang for the first time in 2017.
At the AgriTech show in Tokyo, Japan XAG launched the latest model of the P Series Plant Protection drone.