Drones are gaining popularity for many functions. Suterra partnered with Yamaha to conduct drone-powered applications for Vine Mealybug sprayable mating disruption.
Sara Goldman and Loraine Lee, Suterra experts in mating disruption, watch as two Yamaha pilots fill their drone with Suterra’s vine mealybug (VMB) sprayable pheromone product and start it up. The drone comes to life and begins to rise over the vineyard. The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), which looks like a tiny helicopter equipped with liquid tanks on each side, lifts off from the ground and motors off over the vineyard. The operators will use it to disperse the suggested rate of VMB-F before landing, refilling, and continuing the application over the vineyard.
Agricultural UAVs like this one are a far cry from typical hobbyist drones. This particular drone, the Yamaha RMAX Helicopter , requires specialist operators with extensive training. Drone pilots for Yamaha need to get their pilot’s license in addition to a special UAV license before they are allowed to pilot the machine. When in the air, both an operator and a spotter are constantly monitoring the drone and making adjustments to assure it’s as safe and efficient as possible.
Aerial applications are increasingly explored by growers as alternative methods for spraying all kinds of crops. Using drones may allow growers access to apply sprays in inclement conditions. When using more traditional spray equipment, factors such as mud, hilly terrain, narrow rows, and other conditions may limit the ability to spray at the most ideal timings, Drones fly over the crops, bypassing these challenges.
Drone use may be particularly compatible with Suterra’s VMB-F for a variety of reasons. Growers who have adopted drone technology often do so in the fall when they are no longer using their traditional spray equipment for other pesticide applications. Vine mealybug flights extend well into fall post-harvest and are an important target for continued mating disruption to reduce pest populations going into the following season.
Unlike conventional insecticides, VMB-F does not need to have physical contact with the target insect to have an effect. As long as the crop is sufficiently covered with pheromones, mealybugs in the immediate area will be affected. The microencapsulation technology used in the sprayable mating disruption formulation ensures that each drop is like a microscopic dispenser that continuously releases pheromone, reducing pest populations.
Growers are showing an increased interest in various uses for UAV spray technology, including mating disruption. This drone trial demonstrates an effective partnership between two innovative technologies aimed at delivering options for growers to achieve success in their integrated pest management program.
Suterra continues to work with our grower and industry partners to discover novel methods to combine its mating disruption products with new agricultural technologies, creating increasingly effective solutions for growers. As technology evolves, Suterra remains committed to growers worldwide who will benefit from unique application strategies for Suterra’s mating disruption options.