Russian project explores use of drones in rice growing

01-02-2022 | |
Russian farmers using XAG drones for crop spraying. - Photo: XAG
Russian farmers using XAG drones for crop spraying. - Photo: XAG

Drones were used for seeding, spraying and fertilising in order to reduce inputs and increase yields in rice growing.

Kuban State University and DSK Supply (the Russian partner of Chinese drone manufacturer XAG) initiated a project in Krasnodar Province in the south of Russia to grow rice crops using XAG drones. The effectiveness of agricultural drones was tested at different growth stages including seeding, crop spraying, and fertiliser spreading.

JetSeed spreader

To run the field trial, a flooded rice paddy on an area of 5.7 hectares was selected for drone applications in Krasnodar during the last growing season. With bumps, ditches and tractor tracks on the site, the test field made it difficult to seed rice crops by hand. The XAG Agricultural Drone, a multifunctional unmanned aerial vehicle, was equipped with the JetSeed spreader and able to evenly distribute the seeds at target areas.

After the drone pilot entered the sowing parameters into the smartphone, the germinated seeds were poured into the container and the sowing began with ease. Compared to manual seeding, the XAG Agricultural Drone could navigate itself at centimeter level and significantly save operation time.

Drone spraying at night

When the germinated seeds grew into the new rice shoots, the drone was also used for spraying at night. The herbicides used can rapidly break down through exposure to sunlight, so spraying at night was preferred.

Connecting to the RTK network, the drone with XAG’s so-called atomisation spraying technology allowed for higher precision as well as better penetration into the bottom plant layer. According to the feedback from agronomists, this method helped to reduce chemical consumption by 30% and save water by up to 90%, claims XAG.

Next season, Russian growers with XAG will conduct a larger experiment with other rice varieties of rice and under different conditions.

Move over dogs – drones are a farmer’s new best friend! In just a few years there’s been a huge rise in the use of drones in agriculture. Their popularity is set to soar globally as countries grant operators permission to also apply crop protection products. Read all about it here: Drone spraying takes off as regulations relax worldwide

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Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming