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Use of drones in biological pest control increasing

According to BayWa the use of drones in biological pest control, particular in corn, is increasing.

BayWa AG says the use of drones in agriculture is increasing. The company is experiencing a growing interest in biological pest control in corn in particular: this year alone, the number of hectares treated in the sales area has doubled compared with the previous year. Especially in the German region of Baden-Württemberg, where drone operations are funded by the state, and in Franconia, drones are popular among farmers.

European corn borer

The European corn borer is one of the main targets when it comes to biological pest control using drones. The corn borer can cause significant economic damage. It is estimated that 4 percent of the world’s corn harvest – around 41 million tonnes – is being destroyed by the European corn borer every year, says BayWa.

Drone drops parasitic wasps

To combat it without the use of chemicals eggs of the parasitic wasp (Trichogramma) – a natural enemy of the European corn borer – are applied in the field. A GPS-controlled drone acts as a means of transport: it flies over the field according to a predetermined route and automatically discards capsules with parasitic waspes at regular intervals. The capsules consist mainly of cellulose or cornstarch and are naturally degraded.

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A GPS-controlled drone flies over the field according to a predetermined route and automatically discards capsules with parasitic waspes at regular intervals. - Photo: BayWa AG
A GPS-controlled drone flies over the field according to a predetermined route and automatically discards capsules with parasitic waspes at regular intervals. - Photo: BayWa AG

Reduce use of pesticides

“For us, the use of drones is a simple and efficient way to reduce the use of pesticides,” says Martin Scheiner, a farmer from Karlstadt. When the European corn borer flies, the corn in his fields is often already 3 meters high. Combating the pest with a sprayer automatically means damaging large parts of the corn field. “The drone spares the plants and the environment. In addition, it does the job really fast,” says Scheiner.

Also read: UAV-IQ offers drone-based aerial biocontrol

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