A new drone kit for distribution of beneficials
Koppert e Aermatica3D innovate the distribution of beneficials
What was once a prototype has now become a fully operational system and represents a further step forward in the cooperation between Koppert Italia and Aermatica3D in the field of sustainable agriculture and the distribution of useful organisms by drone.
The solution is in line with the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sees the collaboration between Koppert, a world leader in the supply of biological solutions for agriculture, and Aermatica3D, a company specialized in the development of solutions based on of drones, software and customized kits. This synergy had led to the development of an innovative specific kit for the distribution of useful organisms which had already received the Technical Innovation award at the Eima 2018 competition – the international reference event in Italy for agricultural mechanization – and the now the finalized kit has confirmed its effectiveness, receiving the same award at Eima 2022.
Sustainability in agriculture is achieved by ensuring greater crop production using fewer resources, while maintaining high quality standards. These objectives can be achieved with precision agriculture, to which Koppert and Aermatica3D have dedicated these last few years of research by creating a kit for the rapid, precise and uniform distribution of useful organisms in open fields according to the requirements indicated by Koppert.
The development and subsequent field testing of the system for the distribution of beneficials gave the expected results in the 2022 agricultural season. “The distribution of Spidex Vital (Phytoseiulus Persimilis) in variable dosage on processing tomatoes on different fields in the Piacenza , Parma, Cremona and Bologna has in fact allowed effective containment of the main phytophagous of this crop, the red spider mite (Tetranychus Urticae) – declares Francesco Bourlot, product development manager at Koppert Italia. Both the farmers and the technicians involved in the experimentation on more than 400 hectares of industrial tomatoes have in fact confirmed the success of this innovative distribution and biocontrol technique. The containment of the spider mite was in fact considered satisfactory in 95% of cases, a percentage higher than that of conventional control techniques.
The current technique is based on the preventive release of the predator on the perimeter of the field as soon as the conditions favor the development of the pathogen. The phytoseiid mite is thus able to settle in the crop and keep it clean by preying on the phytophagous. “For precision distribution, the drone has a precise mapping to follow, it flies at a height of 4-5 meters and the predatory mites, placed in a tank together with a substrate of sawdust, are dispersed like a fan – explains Paolo Marras, general manager of Aermatica3D. When the tank is empty or the battery runs out, the drone returns to the starting point, refuels and picks up from where it left off. Once the logistics are organized (having qualified pilots and suitable tools, mapping the field, providing coordinates and product) the advantages are enormous. Great speed of application, even more than 100 hectares a day, high precision and uniformity of distribution, all at a decidedly competitive cost”.
It should also be emphasized that working with a live product, the quicker it is placed on the plant, the better the result. In addition to the industrial tomato, currently the main crop with which this system is worked, launches of other species of mites and useful insects are also being tested on other crops such as watermelon, soybeans and vines.
Precision agriculture is and will increasingly be an ally of producers precisely because it is capable of guaranteeing efficiency and sustainability. Aermatica3D and Koppert will continue their cooperation in order to be able to supply products, technical assistance, technical means and teams of drone operators for the application in a “complete package”. In addition to this, the research and development of innovative solutions in the agricultural sector will continue, to guarantee productivity while respecting the protection of the environment, the health of the farmer and the consumer.