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Drones in Agricultural Spraying

Agrochemical spraying is an important part of agricultural practices as crops are usually exposed to pests, diseases, weeds, and nutrition deficiency. Conventional agrochemical spraying have been conducted by operators using spraying tractors or airplanes in large farms and by farm workers using knapsack sprayer for small farms. 

Aerial spraying is more efficient than land based machinery, yet the conventional manned aircraft requires highly trained pilot, sophisticated navigation and takeoff and landing infrastructure. Aerial spraying with manned aircraft is certainly not suitable for small size farms with diverse varieties of crops in less developed areas.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, have been used for agricultural purposes for decades. The application of UAV technology in agriculture mainly focuses on two aspects, monitoring of crops and spraying of agrochemicals.

UAVs have been widely used for field surveying and crop monitoring, providing information for planning, security and directing decision-making in crop management. 


Using UAV for agrochemical spraying is relatively new.  It was pioneered by the Japanese represented by Yamaha RMax, an internal combustion engine powered unmanned helicopter, remotely controlled by operator for agrochemical spraying.  Though it has been used and commercially available in Japan, Yamaha RMax has never become a popular product for farmers around the world.  The combustion engine driven UAV, with reasonably large payload (30 liter chemical tank) for agrochemical spraying, are less competitive in initial cost, maneuverability, maintenance, safety and reliability when compared with multi-rotor UAVs.


In recent years, technology around lithium battery driven multi-rotor UAV has been making progress in an unprecedented rate.  This type of UAVs are highly automated and relatively easy to manoeuvre, the modulated design made it more reliable with minimum maintenance requirement.  Relatively low cost makes it accessible to small holder farmers and specialist operators.  All together, multi rotor UAV makes a good platform for the next generation of agriculture spraying equipment, especially for the developing world. The major drawback of battery driven, multi-rotor UAV for spraying is the small payload, currently at around 15 kg, limited by the power to weight ratio of lithium battery,  rendering the spraying operation less efficient. Nevertheless, companies such as DJI and XAG in China have been developing commercial models for agriculture spraying UAVs in recent years for the China agriculture market. 


ProAgroTech’s team of crop protection experts have been working on the development of an aerial spraying system using light aircraft and UAVs for agricultural for the past 5 years.  We have tested a number of spraying systems, aerial platforms, and an integrated information systems that connect the customer, the aerial spraying operators, the agrochemical suppliers and the crop protection experts together.

Spraying System


Aerial Platform

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Information System

As the labor cost is rising in China and Southeast Asia, it is expected that the need for agricultural spraying UAVs will grow. The major challenge is to develop a highly automated UAV based agricultural spraying system with relatively higher payload. 

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To fulfil the need of the market, a more efficient and economically viable UAV has to be developed as the aerial spraying platform.  By combining ProAgroTech’s expertise in the field of UAV application for agricultural spraying over the years with the strength of Birmingham University in turbo based power train, we embarked a collaboration in developing the next generation UAVs for agricultural spraying.

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