SOPs to utilize drones in farm sector released

The use of drones in agriculture was approved with the aim of revolutionizing the sector and boosting productivity in a sustainable manner.

December 22, 2021

The SOP was released on November 21 by the agriculture minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar.

It was put together by the agriculture ministry in consultation with all the stakeholders of the sector.

It covers several aspects ranging from instructions, permissions, restrictions, insurance and registration to ensure maximum safety.

The GOI has been making several efforts in infusing the latest technologies in agriculture.

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, in the farm sector was released by the Union Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar on November 21, 2021. The decision to use drones in agriculture has been made for the purpose of spraying pesticides as well as other soil and crop nutrients. Well-equipped with features such as multi-spectral and photo cameras, they can also be used to monitor crop stress, plant growth, predict yields and deliver props like herbicides, fertilizers and water. Additionally, the health of any vegetation or crop, field areas inflicted by weeds, infections and pests can also be determined, based on which, the exact amount of chemicals needed to fight these infestations can be applied. Consequently, this will optimize the overall cost for the farmer. Consulting with all the stakeholders of the sector, the ministry of agriculture has released the SOPs which provide clear guidelines and concise instructions for the effective and safe operation of the drones for the above purposes.

The Minister termed the adoption of drone technology as ‘the need of the times’ and highlighted the continuous efforts of the government to establish the latest technologies in agriculture towards bringing sustainable solutions with regard to improving the productivity as well as efficiency of the sector and to double the farmers’ income by 2022. He stated that the important aspects of the SOP included statutory provisions, flying permissions, area distance restrictions, weight classification, overcrowded areas restriction, drone registration, safety insurance, piloting certification, operation plan, air flight zones, weather conditions, SOPs for pre, post and during operation, emergency handling plan. He also brought to notice the formation of the Farmer Producer Organisation (FPOs) and the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund(AIF) along with the use of drones for the first time in fending off locust attacks in various Indian states.

With the national drone policy notified, the Drone Rules 2021 having been simplified, and the reduction of the requisite fees for permissions to nominal amounts, individuals and companies can now own and operate drones more effectively. The technology to allow drones to shoot pods and their seeds is also being developed by many startups currently.