Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture has begun the process of regulating control of drone use for aerial application of pesticides recently, drafting a set of regulations.
Regulatory oversight will include provisions for allowing aerial application via drones to deliver agrochemicals in areas where aircraft cannot deploy chemicals safely, namely in areas where terrain becomes a significant obstacle for other application methods such as agricultural machinery or backpack spraying.
The Ministry stated in documentation released on the new regulations that this regulatory effort will lead to a safer and more efficient and economical application of pesticides in Brazil that will meet the demands of the national agriculture market.
The announced regulations will affect drones in the Class III category – relating to aircraft between 250 g and 25 kg. The other categories – Class I, weighing more than 150 kg and Class II, from 25-150 kg – will continue to follow Normative Instruction No 02/2008, which covers agricultural aviation work standards.
Further instruction in the regulation will require all spray drone operators to be registered with the Ministry, proving qualification to their equipment and apply products safely although the methodology by which the ministry will gauge this is not yet specified.
Companies using drone application methods for spraying would also be required to have an agronomist, a remote agricultural pilot certified by the Ministry, and an agricultural technician on staff who has completed a course in agricultural aviation for field missions.
Farmers wishing to complete their own agricultural spraying operations would also be required to hire an agricultural engineer, and a certified remote agricultural pilot. Companies and farmers alike would have to make detailed reports of each operation, which must be kept on file for at least two years, ready to be produced on demand if required to Ministry inspectors who are expected to periodically check nationwide operations at random.
The Ministry’s precision agriculture coordinator Fabricio Juntolli stated that drone technology is becoming heavily used in spraying high value crops such as strawberries, flowers, and over small areas as a replacement for back pack sprayers, cutting down significantly on manpower requirements while increasing efficiency for safer application of agrochemicals.