The concept of broadcasting fertiliser and other agricultural materials from the air has been endorsed by one of Europe’s leading fertiliser spreader manufacturers.
Rauch builds tractor-operated spinning disc and air boom spreaders – which are supplied under the Kuhn name outside Germany – and has adopted the large eight-rotor drone developed by Agronator for this application.
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Flight time is up to 40 minutes using power from two lithium-polymer batteries, which can be recharged in about 20 minutes, according to the manufacturer’s information.
The CultiCopter has a 50-litre (1,765cu ft) capacity hopper and a single-disc broadcasting mechanism developed by Rauch to deliver materials across different swath widths and different application rates as required.
Weighing 80kg (176lb) and measuring 4m (13ft) in diameter, the rotorcraft can carry a payload of some 30kg (66lb) and has successfully applied mineral fertiliser, slug pellets and small seeds in trials, says the company.
An attraction of the fertiliser spreader drone is that application can proceed irrespective of ground conditions and pre-programmed flight paths are said to make it easy to work in designated sections of a field or on a variable-rate prescription basis.
A high degree of precision is claimed thanks to the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) guidance technology used to control the craft’s flightpath, as well as the efficiency that results from its fast working speed.
Rauch says this results in output exceeding any ground-based autonomous agricultural vehicles currently available.