Agri Business

Intelligent spraying drone to help farmers target specific crop areas in Telangana, AP

K V Kurmanath | Updated on October 28, 2019

Marut Dronetech, developed drones that can cover about 5,000 acres of crops in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, by targeted spraying of pesticides and fertilisers.

Farmers for generations spray pesticides and fertilisers uniformly, and indiscriminately in some instances, across the extent of their land, adding up to costs and efforts.

Marut Dronetech has covered 5,000 acres working with input makers, FPOs

Like in human beings, deficiency in nutrients and vulnerability to diseases are not uniform in plants. Yet, farmers for generations have sprayed pesticides and fertilisers uniformly, and indiscriminately in some instances, across the extent of their land, adding up to costs and efforts. Besides, it could adversely impact the growth of crops.

Abuse and mishandling of chemicals in the fields are causing serious health complications and deaths among the farming community.

Intelligent spraying drone

Marut Dronetech, a start-up, now endeavours to address these crucial issues that the agricultural sector is facing. Already, it has covered about 5,000 acres of crops by targeted spraying of pesticides and fertilisers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

“The farmers are suffering yield losses due to inadequate or improper fertiliser application. If you do more of this, it could impact soil health as well. We can tell apart a healthy plant from an unhealthy one,” Prem Kumar Vislawath, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Marut Drontech, told BusinessLine.

Founded by a team of Indian Institute of Technology (Guwahati) alumni, the start-up developed an intelligent, autonomous spraying drone targeted at agriculture. Using drones that can cover 40 km in an hour in low altitudes, the start-up gathers data and takes a few hours to analyse and map the crops for pesticide and/or fertiliser sprays. Another drone, taking the payload with it, does the spraying, using a predefined route.

The start-up used similar techniques to help the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) identify larvae population in lakes and helped reduce spraying instances, saving time and money.

With RGB (red, green blue), hyper, multi-spectral cameras and powerful sensors tucked under its belly, the drone gathers huge amounts of data, analyses it to map nutrition deficiencies and diseases in a particular field. It then makes a guided sortie with the required payload and sprays the required amounts in targeted areas.

The drone can make a low-altitude (as low as 5-6 ft) flight to make targeted spray in a particular area. The start-up is presently working with input manufacturers and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to provide services.

For input manufacturers, the start-up is also selling data that they gather while working on the fields. “What we need is large amounts of data and machine learning tools to make the solution work better,” Prem said.

With seven employees and 12 consultants, the start-up is in talks to raise $1 million to fund its activities.

What agri data can do

Prem says the data gathered by drones can be very useful to assess the risks and losses on farms that are insured or those who have applied for insurance.

“The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) makes it mandatory to use exponential technology, including remote sensing, in addition to drone imaging, to detect fraudulent claims and discrepancies,” he pointed out.

“Farmers can make insurance claims by capturing drone feeds as evidence. The data is useful for insurance companies too to estimate damages and cross-check the claims,” he said.

 

 

Published on October 28, 2019

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