The use of a drone for chemical control of the psyllid that spreads HLB adds to Brazil’s efforts to battle the citrus disease, recent research indicates. The research was conducted by Fundecitrus in partnership with the startup Anáhata Serviços Agronômicos.
Drones are ideal for complementing terrestrial applications and for emergency applications that need to be made quickly. For example, a drone is helpful in the case of peak insect populations. It is also helpful when operational difficulties impact a grower’s ability to control the psyllid with conventional (terrestrial) sprayers.
A drone can also replace the use of airplanes used for spraying in small and medium-sized properties. Additionally, the drone is a clean technology. It is battery-powered, does not burn fossil fuel and mitigates risks of contamination to workers involved in the spray process.
Fundecitrus researcher Marcelo Miranda, who is responsible for the study, said the drone combines science and technology to control HLB. “Using a drone is yet another option in psyllid management,” Miranda said. “The tool can complement ground spraying with tractors and replace airplanes in some situations, adding new possibilities to the citrus grower.”
The research evaluated the control of the psyllids in orchards of different ages. “In general, we observed that the applications were effective in controlling adults of the insect, with mortality above 80%, mainly in the external part of the canopy of citrus trees,” Miranda said.
The technology is already validated and a grower who wants to use it can look for a specialized company to acquire a drone or rent the service.
Drones have been used in Florida citrus for other purposes. For instance, a Citrus Industry story told how one Florida grower used drones to count trees and determine their size after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017.
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