On the 19th, a demonstration experiment using agricultural drones (UAVs) to spray pesticides was conducted in a rice field in Yoshino Town, Shiga Prefecture, where rice for the local sake “Yoshino Masamune” is grown. In March of this year, a volunteer group called “Fly” (six people, represented by Toshiaki Chetani), who are qualified to operate agricultural drones, was established for the first time in the town.
I rented a compact home drone for agricultural use, with a body width of about 93 cm and a weight of 7.6 kg. Rice herbicide (granular) recommended for drone spraying was placed in a canister attached to the bottom, and proper spraying of an area of about 1,500 square metres was completed in about 7 minutes. In cooperation with JA Naraken and the Southern Prefectural Office of Agricultural and Forestry Revitalisation, we will compare and verify the weed control effects and the differences caused by the chemicals. A neighbouring rice field was manually applied with another herbicide.
Although the pilot was a one-person operation, four members checked each other’s positions, etc., and the operation ended smoothly. Representative Chetani (61) confirmed the flight path on the controller’s screen, and he replied, “The assistance was good, and we were able to unfold smoothly.”
Flying uses the town’s Cooperative Community Development Promotion Subsidy to popularise smart farming and address the aging of farmers and labour shortages. In the future, he plans to improve the skills of his members and respond to inquiries from other farmers.
The agricultural group Yoshino Trip Farm (represented by Masayuki Atsutsui) regenerated farmland that had been abandoned for 30 years, and last year planted Gin no Sato, a rice plant for sake brewing. Three sake breweries in the town use the same ingredients to make Yoshino Masamune, a gift from their hometowns, so you can taste the uniqueness of sake.
Carrying chemical canisters into the rice paddies for spraying is labor-intensive and time-consuming,” says Mr. Arai, 61, also a member of Fly, who says, “Using drones saves labour. I also hope that young people will become interested in agriculture through drones.”