Spraying fungicides on areca and coconut plantations have been a labouring challenge for farmers in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. Thanks to this invention by the Prithvi to Gagan (P2G) startup, this task will now be mechanised. P2G has invented drones to aid farmers in spraying fungicides on their crops.
Similar technologies were already available in countries like the USA, and now P2G has brought it home, developing and designing drones to suit our needs.
P2G focuses on technological innovations and has five patents to its credits since 2008, and the fungicide spraying drone is another feather in its cap. Avinash Rao founded the startup which is based in Nidle village, Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada.
Rao is an alumnus of the SDM College of Engineering and Technology in Dharwad. He also has a degree in Intellectual Property Rights and Patents from the National Law School. Rao worked in Honeywell Technology Solutions for 11 years before dedicating his skills and time to establishing P2G.
P2G had successfully launched a mechanical tree climber in 2012, and their next target was to enable this robot to spray fungicides to help farmers.
They successfully designed two drones that carry out this function. One of them, developed from the mechanised tree climber relies on trees for support. They can be used by farmers cultivating black pepper along with areca.
“After experimenting with a tree-climbing robot, the challenge was to spray fungicides. Thus came the idea, but this was no easy task” Rao told Bangalore Mirror. “we have put in place a system of dynamic payload. The spray directions keep changing based on requirements” he adds.
The other drone operates independently of any tree. The average drone has a flight time of 15-20 minutes. To increase the efficiency of the drone by making its air-time infinite, the second drone model is attached to a ground vehicle.
“We have used a power tethering so that the drone is physically connected to a wire and pipe. Hence, a ground vehicle was designed to synchronise with the aerial vehicle. With this, spray activity and power are infinite” claims Rao.
P2G received a grant of Rs. 50 lakhs for the drone project. Both the models were unveiled at the “Drones for Agriculture and Beyond” programme at Dharmasthala, Karnataka on Thursday. The start-up is also attentive to the fact that farmers may not be able to operate this device. Rao told Bangalore Mirror, “Farmers need not worry about the difficulty of operations and maintenance. All they need is to make the order, and the company representatives will undertake spraying.”
The team has also successfully experimented on drones that can be used to clean windmill blades, high electric lines, high-rise buildings as well as to paint walls. They also aim at designing drones useful in the defence sector.