SOP announcement by Indian government for using Drones for Agrochemical Spraying a welcome decision: CropLife India

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09 December 2021, New Delhi: CropLife India, an association of 15 R&D driven crop science companies, and the leading voice of the plant science industry in India, compliments the Government of India for releasing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for use of Drone application for crop protection in agricultural, forestry, non-cropped areas, etc. This SOP will render guidance to the stakeholders involved in undertaking safe and effective control of Pest and diseases by Drone based Pesticide application.

Mr. Asitava Sen, Chief Executive Officer, CropLife India opines, “It is indeed a proud moment that the transparent deliberations within Department of Agriculture, Central Insecticide Board and Ministry of Civil Aviation and industry experts have resulted in the pragmatic SOP and Guidelines for Registration requirements; in an exemplary schedule. These guidelines will now be studied and set the benchmark for ongoing engagements in other Asian countries. Very glad to share that CropLife was given an opportunity to actively participate in several deliberations while framing up these SOP.”

CropLife India has been advocating the need for fast tracking drone’s application for spraying of agrochemicals for quite some time.

Mr. Sen added, “As the Guidelines for Registration requirements of pesticides for drone application has also been released simultaneously, we now urge the agrochemicals industry to initiate the necessary trials, apply for product registration and collaborate with drone manufacturers and service providers for the benefit of the Indian farmers. The several benefits of drones application includes increased efficiency and precision leading to improved pest management and crop productivity; significant reduction in risk of operator exposure; lower water consumption and new skill development and entrepreneurship potential in rural India. Such a technology deserves quicker adoption and ease of doing business to prevent delays/ hurdles.”

The SOP for use of Drone application for crop protection covers important aspects like statutory provisions, flying permissions, area distance restrictions, weight classification, overcrowded areas restriction, drone registration, safety insurance, piloting certification, operation plan, air flight zones, weather conditions, SOPs for pre, post and during operation, emergency handling plan, etc.

Few of the attractive features of the pragmatic and relaxed Guidelines for Registration requirements of pesticides for drone application are: 1) Only phyto-toxicity data generation on the approved crop for one season two different agro-climatic conditions, where the target crop is cultivated – If critical Good Agriculture Practices (cGAP) e.g. AI dose/ ha, Pre harvest Interval (PHI) and number of applications is within a recommended range of conventional spray; and 2) a standardized protocol for conducting the phytotoxicity studies.

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