Recent advancements in drone technology suggest that drones could play a key role in creating farming systems less reliant on insecticides.
Parabug, a drone based insect deployment system, propagates biological insect control with the help of technology. It allows farmers to seed their crop with live beneficial insects, such as predatory mites, parasatoid wasps and lacewings to control a variety of insect pests.
Agricultural pests can wreak havoc, destroying a harvest and potentially threatening crops throughout expansive growing areas. Unfortunately, the option to apply beneficial organisms to combat invasive pests can be costly, labour-intensive, time consuming and inaccurate and therefore suffers inhibited adoption.
In a welcome relief to these challenges Parabug drones can cover 10 hectares in 30 minutes, a significant improvement on traditional methods as per David Pearce managing director at Parabug. “Parabug uses a commercial DJI Matrice 600 drone, the mechanism is two tubes that hold about 10 litres of material,” he said, adding, “Normally your beneficial insects come in a carrier, such as vermiculite.”
Mr Pearce said the drone flying altitude and speed would depend on the type of beneficial insect being applied and the crop that they are being applied to. “Typically Parabug is flown between 3 to 6 metres above the crop at speeds between 20 to 35 kilometres a hectare,” he said.
Mr Pearse said a significant difference in the design of the Parabug system was a rolling action on the deployment tubes. “The survival rates after application with the Parabug are the same as if it were hand release, there is no noticeable increase on the mortality rate. It is very gentle on the insects and there is a wider range of insects able to be dispersed because of that.” he said.
Adding that beneficial insects were an important part of an integrated pest management strategy, and could allow farmers to reduce insecticide use on a variety of crops Mr Pearce said, “The Parabug provides a choice for growers to use beneficials, there is significant savings in time and labour” he commented.
Known as Australia’s most efficient biological pest control service Parabug is a patent pending tool to bring about the greater use of biological control of agricultural pests.
The use of beneficial insects forms part of integrated pest management, combining cultural, biological and chemical means to achieve sustainable pest management. The solution to elevate the use of biologicals is the Parabug system. Parabug uses remote piloted aircraft (RPA) or “drones”, for the distribution of biologicals, granulars, and other agricultural materials. The Parabug system provides for rapid, timely and cost effective dispersal.
Given that the world population will be increasing exponentially; novel solutions must be made to effectively provide the world with a reliable, safe, affordable, and sustainable food supply and drones enabling higher efficacy of traditional biological pest control seem to be the ideal solution to optimise crop produce.
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