DJI Agras T10 Use in Northern Italy’s Val D’Aosta Vineyards
Interview with Michel Clusaz, agricultural entrepreneur
Coming from a family of farmers and breeders, Michel Clusaz, agricultural entrepreneur, started working in the mountain pastures at a very young age and then diversified his business into various agricultural sectors and services. The passion for viticulture was handed down to him by his mother and directed him towards university studies in agriculture and oenology. Currently, Michel Clusaz manages about 4 hectares of vineyards in addition to 30 hectares of meadows, pastures, orchards as well as about 70 cattles. Today we asked him about his experience using DJI Agras T10 drones in his vineyards.
Michel, when did you start using drones?
I started using drones on my vineyards and some orchards only recently, in 2022, with the purchase of a first DJI Agras T10 from Paolo Marras, of Aermatica3D. As of 2021, only one other farmer in our area had made such innovation in the area, making us pioneers in testing this new technology in Val D’Aosta.
How did you come to know drones in agriculture?
I am very interested in innovation in general and especially in agriculture. I regularly keep myself up to date about new technologies in agriculture. I participate in trade fairs and follow innovation in agriculture on social media. In the drone sector, I started following the evolution of their applications in the agricultural field 4-5 years ago. In 2019 in Arnad, in the Kiuva cooperative headquarters, there was a field test of the model preceding the DJI Agras T10, the MG1P, with the company Getto s.n.c. and with Paolo Marras of Aermatica3D. There I understood the feasibility of using the vehicle on my vineyards and convinced myself to buy it.
Why did you decide to switch from traditional methods to using a drone in your vineyards?
The main reason was to solve a problem of increased work as a result of managing a larger area in my vineyards. I definitely needed help with taking care of the vineyards, but hiring workers was precluded due to high costs of workforce in the sector and the complexity of the organization. Therefore, I opted for mechanization, which is also my personal passion.
Did you use the drone immediately after purchase?
As soon as the DJI Agras T10 drone arrived, I immediately set it up and used it to learn how to fly it at its best. At first I was worried, it was a vehicle I had never tried, I had never even tried to fly radio controlled helicopters as a child! Over the course of a month, we took part in a demonstration in Alba, with a first try of foliar fertilization in April 2021. From then on I used the DJI Agras T10 regularly, and I still use it up to now. I also decided later to purchase another one which has just arrived at the end of this January 2023.
Where did you use it and with what benefits?
I started on an orchard and vineyards. My vineyards are located in the mountains on a steep slope, where the only usable means was the backpack sprayer. The sprayer loads 15 liters of product and spreads as you walk through the vineyards. It takes four days of work, a monstrous expenditure of energy. This process got me so exhausted that I it was hard to make it until the end of the day.
With the drone, health is the main benefit. Now I can treat steep slopes with foliar fertilizers very easily, I have considerably reduced my working hours. In one morning I can finish the job I used to do in four days without having to carry any weight.
Moreover, there is no need for being close to the vineyards, therefore no longer the need of using masks and coveralls to use foliar fertilizers, which despite being natural are not healthy for the body. I can now work in office clothes, which is a quite unusual thing for a farmer.
Another very important aspect compared to the use of a tractor sprayer is the drift effect, which is very reduced with the drone, meaning that the product distributed is more localized than with the distribution done with a tractor. With the drone you can have a drift effect of 1.5m in the absence of wind, which with the tractor can reach up to 10-20 meters.
One last question that all farmers probably ask before thinking to purchase a drone for agricultural use, especially in the case of the DJI Agras T10 which is not so small. Is it complicated to fly?
Absolutely not, it’s actually very simple to use. I carefully plan my route and hit the start button, and it basically flies on its own!
Do you also have a vineyard and are interested in learning more about the use of drones in agriculture?