Kisan Drone


    In News 

    Prime Minister of India flagged off 100 Kisan drones as a part of the “Drone Kisan Yatra” with the aim to promote chemical-free farming in India. 

    • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman first announced the initiative in her Budget speech earlier this month. Sitharaman added that inclusive drone development is one of the four priorities of the government moving forward.

    What is a Kisan drone?

    • It will have an unmanned tank filled with insecticides and nutrients. 
    • The drones are expected to have a high capacity of 5 to 10kg.
    •  The drone will spray the same amount of pesticide on about one acre of land in just 15 minutes. 
    • The drones have been manufactured by Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, a home-grown start-up. 

    Expected implications of the move

    • This will save time, will require less effort and spraying will be done uniformly.
    • They will also be used to carry vegetables, fruits, fish, etc to the markets from the farms. 
    • These items will be supplied directly to the market with minimal damage, consuming lesser time, resulting in more profits to farmers and fishermen.
    • The development of these drones on a large scale is expected to bring new employment opportunities for the youth. 
    • Kisan drones will be used for crop assessment, digitization of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
    • Kisan Drones will be used to boost the agricultural sector in the country, the use of Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
    • This step was taken as the government aims to promote chemical-free national farming.
    • Kisan Drone will usher in a new edge revolution as high capacity drones will be used to carry vegetables, fruits, fishes to the market directly from the farms. “These items will be supplied directly to the market with minimal damage, consuming lesser time, resulting in more profits to farmers and fishermen,”
    •  the development of the drone market in India will generate fresh employment and new opportunities for the youth.

    Significance/ Benefits of Drone Technology

    • the drones will be used for mapping, disaster management, land survey, mining, monitoring of works, and agricultural pesticide spraying among others.
    • It will also check indiscriminate use of pesticides as drones ensured uniform spraying covering every inch of the crop. 
      • The drone could determine how much pesticide the crop required for a given crop size.
    • Widespread adoption: The subsidized purchase of agriculture drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs will make the technology affordable, resulting in their widespread adoption.
      • This would make drones more accessible to the common man in India and will also significantly encourage domestic drone production.
    • Enhanced Production – The farmer can improve production capabilities through comprehensive irrigation planning, adequate monitoring of crop health, increased knowledge about soil health, and adaptation to environmental changes.
    • Effective and Adaptive Techniques – Drone usage results in regular updates to farmers about their crops and helps develop strengthened farming techniques.
      • They can adapt to weather conditions and allocate resources without any wastage.
    • Greater safety of farmers – It is safer and more convenient for farmers to use drones to spray pesticides in terrains challenging to reach, infected areas, taller crops, and power lines. 
      • It also helps farmers prevent spraying the crops, which leads to less pollution and chemicals in the soil.
    • Faster data for quick decision-making – Drone surveys back farmers with accurate data processing that encourages them to make quick and mindful decisions without second-guessing, allowing farmers to save the time invested in crop scouting.
    • Less wastage of resources – Agri-drones enable optimum usage of all resources such as fertilizer, water, seeds, and pesticides.
    • Accuracy – The drone survey helps farmers calculate the precise land size, segment the various crops, and indulge in soil mapping.
    • Useful for Insurance claims – Farmers use the data captured through drones to claim crop insurance in case of any damages. They even calculate risks/losses associated with the land while being insured.
    • Evidence for insurance companies – Agricultural insurance sectors use Agri-drones for efficient and trustworthy data. They capture the damages that have occurred for the right estimation of monetary payback to the farmers.

    Issues /Challenges

    • Initial Cost: Mostly, agricultural drones used for surveying have fixed wings and may cost very high based on features and sensors necessary for executing their intended use.
    • Connectivity: Online coverage is mostly unavailable in arable farms. Under such a situation, any farmer intending to use drones has to invest in connectivity or buy a drone with local data storing capability in a format that can be transferred and processed later.
    • Weather Dependent: Under windy or rainy conditions, flying drones is not easy, unlike traditional aircraft. Drones are weather dependent.
    • Knowledge and Skill: An average farmer cannot analyze drone images as it requires specialized skills and knowledge to translate them into any useful information.
    • Misuse: There is a chance of misuse to infringe the privacy of people and illegal transfer of information.

    Governments interventions 

    • The Union Budget 2022-23 announced a special push for Kisan (farmer) drones.
      • The budget also aimed to create public-private partnerships for high-tech farm services.
    • The Union Agriculture Ministry has amended the guidelines of the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation to provide subsidies to rural entrepreneurs and farmer producer organisations for purchasing drones.
      • The drones can only be used in the green areas and their flight in the airports and military areas is prohibited.
    • Drone Rules 2021: Ministry of Civil Aviation has published ‘Drone Rules 2021’ to regulate the use and operation of Drones in India.
    • PLI
      • The Union government approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components.
      • An allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years has been approved for it.
    • the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) in consultation with all the stakeholders of this sector, has brought out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of drones in pesticide and nutrient application that provides concise instructions for effective and safe operations of drones.
    • India banned the import of foreign drones except those used for research and development, defence and security. 
      • Import of drone components is exempted because made-in-India drones still rely heavily on China for them, thereby minimising its fallout on the government’s ambitious plan to roll out agri-drones.
      • The latest measures indicate that GoI wants to discourage Indian companies from buying drones from China even as it ensures that the manufacturing of drones in India does not get affected by the lack of components from the neighbouring country

    Conclusion and Way Forward

    • The digital revolution is touching every sphere of life and hence it is high time to bring agriculture in its ambit.
    • The MoUs to rope in the private sector can help in quicker modernisation of Farms, easier access to various schemes and subject matter knowledge.
      • Such practices must be studied in depth via pilot projects and extended to the whole of India if found successful.
    • The emphasis on digital infrastructure for infusion of agriculture technologies in a PPP mode will be the need of the hour in the next 25 years to combat the serious threat of climate change, Kisan drones’ are the beginning of a new revolution. 
    • Farmers can use high-capacity drones in the coming times to transport their produce like fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets in a minimal time, boosting their income.
    •  The drones would go a long way in addressing the acute labour shortage faced by farmers, especially paddy growers.
    • the government needs to frame policies, install infrastructure to keep a tab on the drones and put in place policies for opening up the sector

    What is a Drone?

    • “Drone” is an aircraft that can operate autonomously or can be operated remotely without a pilot on board.
    • Classification Based on Weight
      • Nano drone: less than or equal to 250 grams; 
      • Micro drone: greater than 250 grams and less than or equal to 2 kilograms
      • Small drone: greater than 2 kilograms and less than or equal to 25 kilograms
      • Medium drone: greater than 25 kilograms and less than or equal to 150 kilograms.
      • Large drone: greater than 150 kilograms.
    • Applications:
      • For surveillance, situational analysis, crime control, VVIP security, disaster management, drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions, delivery of medicines, collection of samples from remote or epidemic/pandemic-affected areas etc

    Source: LM