Sri Lankan company develops GPS drone with weedkiller technology

Sri Lankan company develops GPS drone with weedkiller technology

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A drone spraying chemicals to a paddy field and a GPS map of a paddy field with weeds marked in red.
A drone spraying chemicals to a paddy field and a GPS map of a paddy field with weeds marked in red.

Sri Lanka: Colombo-based CIC Holdings PLC has developed a technology to scan weeds in large paddy fields using battery powered drones (planes) and spray chemicals to them using the drone. To succeed in the effort, the company used studies and research for the past 8 years to introduce this novel technology which would also minimize the use of chemicals and minimize environmental impact.

Samantha Ranatunge, Managing Director CIC Holdings said that they had invested around US 6,000 for this home grown research. “CIC has been pioneering in agriculture and research and this is a result of that effort that this ‘Precision Agriculture Practices’ (Smart farming) are being implemented,” he said.

The usual pattern to eradicate weeds is to spray weedicides manually to the entire paddy field thus spending large amount of chemicals and money.

“In this manner we can identify the weeds from the drone camera and then spray the chemicals to the affected area using GPS technology. We will be flying the drone in low altitudes (10 or 15 meters) thus minimizing the impact of wind blowing the chemicals to other areas,” said research scientist, CIC Precision Agriculture Technologies Manju Gunawardane in Colombo on Friday.

He said that there are some countries that spray weedicides using planes but this is the first time in the world that a small area is being identified and treated using the drone and GPS technology. “CIC will obtain a global patent for this,” he said.

He said that through aerial photography obtained from the drone surveillance they can identify weeds and create a GPS map and then program the drone to spray chemicals to that particular area via GPS. “In addition we can also identify unhealthy plants and spray manure to them using this same technology.”

He said that the naked eye cannot do this and the end result is that huge amounts of manure and weedicides are being used.

Currently they are obtaining more approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority and other institutions and after final research the technology would be deployed from next year, he said.