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BIS Research: UAV Delivery Systems and UAV Application of Formulation & Adjuvant Technologiesqrcode

Jul. 2, 2019

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Jul. 2, 2019
Crop protection chemical products play a pivotal role in controlling the pests and diseases that infect and damage overall farm produce, and can further reduce the quantity and quality of food production. Excessive and unsuitable applications of crop protection chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, among others, through traditional manual spraying, has resulted in an intensification of hazardous elements in the environment. Moreover, these crop protection chemicals demand high prices, leading to an increase in operational costs. Thus, incorporation of precision technologies for spraying of these chemicals has emerged as an ideal alternative to address the limitations faced by farmers. and to ensure ecological sustainability. This article covers the following points in detail about:

- Major applications, use cases, and downsides of UAV/drones in the agriculture industry
- Stakeholder Analysis: Effect of UAV Based Delivery System on the Adjuvant’s Supply Chain
- Companies Producing Adjuvants Compatible with UAV Applications
- UAV- The Future of Pesticide Spraying


Agricultural UAV Market by Applications


The advancement of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/ Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV/UAS) technology in a variety of industries, such as aerospace and defense, healthcare, retail, and others, is resulting in the proliferation of a number of uses across the globe, including the growing usage of UAVs/UAS in agriculture. These UAVs, in conjunction with image data analytics, are being widely used in the agriculture industry.
Figure 1. Mega Trends to Impact the Drone Industry in 2019
Source: BIS Research Analysis

The agriculture industry has become a favourite among interested businesses and consumers of drones, and is expected to witness a sharp uptake of drones in the next 5-10 years. There are various ways in which UAVs are effectively reshaping and assisting the overall crop life cycle, based on their imaging, real-time data gathering, processing, and analytical capabilities, including:

- Providing precise 3D maps for early soil analysis, useful in planning seeds and nutrient status to further reduce the overall cost of plantation and other expenses
- Adjusting the altitude, scanning farms, spraying appropriate amounts of liquid (fertilizers, adjuvants), and ensuring uniform coverage of the affected area
- Precisely tracking and assessing the growth of crops and providing data about inefficiencies and deficiencies, as well as bacterial or fungal infections, and ensuring better crop management
- Identifying areas of the farm which are dry, less irrigated, and need improvement, with the help of sensors, combined with UAVs

Use Cases of UAV Delivery System and Application in the U.S., India, and Africa


The U.S. is currently at the forefront of the global agricultural adjuvants market, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dictating the use of UAVs for farming operations in the country. The Yamaha RMAX, an unmanned helicopter developed by the Yamaha Motor Company, is being used in the USA. It consists of a two-bladed rotor and is remote-controlled by a line-of-sight user. Initially used only in Japan for agricultural spray applications, the UAV is now approved for operations in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Another renowned Chinese drone manufacturer, DJI, has introduced the Agras MG-1, designed for precision variable rate application of pesticides. The company is now working on automating these UAVs to apply chemicals to broadacre crops.

Likewise, in India, a farmer from the state of Haryana deployed customized drones that can aerially spray pesticides on crops. These drones (still unnamed) are of two versions - manually operated and automatically operated, and can carry a 35 kg load.

Even in Africa, some 26% of the countries have stringent regulations governing the use of UAVs. Countries such as South Africa, Mauritius, Rwanda, Morocco, and Tanzania, among others, have successfully deployed UAVs for inspecting crops. In Morocco, UAS is used primarily for efficient application of crop protection chemicals. Les Domaines Agricoles, the largest Moroccan agribusiness, is one such company, which is utilizing UAV technology and image data analytics to ensure effective fertilization.

Stakeholder Analysis- Effect of UAV Based Delivery System on the Adjuvant’s Supply Chain

UAV/Drone providers effectively contribute a large value to the entire crop supply chain. Spraying of crop protection chemicals for disease, weed, and pest control is currently one of the emerging applications of drones in the agriculture sector. Drone manufacturers are expanding their market capabilities in this industry by partnering with various farm cooperatives and agriculture consultants.

Farmers use real-time information extracted with the usage of UAVs to plan their cropping cycle, and also for better decision making. Though the initial cost of implementation is high when compared to the benefits/returns received from this technology, UAVs as a viable technology is a justified investment.

Adjuvant manufacturers and companies providing crop protection chemical products can reduce wastage of their stocks and pre-plan accordingly through this data-driven approach.

Credit and insurance companies play an important role in the crop cycle, considering that majority of farmers’ livelihoods are largely dependent upon farm produce. Crop insurance protects farmers against any form of loss caused by crop failure, while credit institutions provide much-needed credit to them, to purchase technologically advanced products and utilize their efficient inputs. By analyzing the real-time information generated by UAVs from the field, these companies can judge the credit worthiness of farmers and pay out monetary compensation with a better degree of reliability.

Agronomists and distributors operating in the market can also use extracted crop indicators and harvesting schedules to plan their distribution schedules and prevent losses.
Figure 2. Stakeholder Analysis
Source: BIS Research Analysis

Companies Producing Adjuvants Compatible with UAV Applications

Adjuvants are primarily used in the agricultural industry to improve the performance of insecticides, pesticides and herbicides, which further improve the effectiveness of the crop protection chemical and help in providing better distribution and drift reduction. As per a report by BIS Research, the global agricultural adjuvants market is expected to grow from $2.8 billion in the year 2016 to $3.6 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2016 to 2021. Companies such as Adjuvant Plus Inc., ORO AGRI, Helena Chemical Company, Wilbur Ellis Company LLC, Solvay AG, Nufarm Ltd., Momentive LLC, Akzo Nobel Inc., BASF SE, Evonik Industries, and Elkem Silicones, are the key players operating in the agricultural adjuvants market.
Figure 3. Global Agricultural Adjuvants Market and Key Driving Factors
Source: BIS Research Analysis

Spray drift is presently considered to be the most challenging problem faced by applicators and pesticide manufacturers. It can damage plants, animals, and the environment, and can even affect human health. Companies have come up with adjuvants and formulations compatible with UAV applications. These formulations (with their wetting, spreading, sticking, reducing evaporating, and also spray drifting properties) have the ability to minimize or even eliminate spray application problems by controlling physical and chemical properties.


The potential of adjuvants and formulations to reduce spray drift can be judged by measuring spray droplet sizes at different concentrations. Thus, ensuring the selection of the correct adjuvant for spraying though UAVs is one of the main practices adopted to reduce the negative effects of spray drift.

Downsides of UAV Delivery System for Spraying Purposes


One major downside of deploying UAVs on farms for spraying or other purposes is the exceptional high cost of fully equipped UAVs, including sensors, radars, and related hardware and software. The high prices further increase when combined with the cost of acquiring technical skills and knowledge of piloting UAVs.  Though cheaper UAV options are also available, these are primarily ill-equipped and inadequate for farming operations. In the majority of cases related to UAV equipment, increases in the performance directly proportional to the rise in prices.

Another key concern for users about UAVs is privacy. A UAV can gather data without being detected, leading to the risk of breach of privacy. There also exists certain safety concerns while dealing with UAVs, hence, these should be equipped with sensors-and-avoid  systems to prevent potential collisions.

Rules and regulations for the use of UAV/ UAS for agricultural purposes vary across countries. For instance, the use of UAVs for farming purposes is considered a commercial activity by the Federal Government of the U.S. Farmers need to undergo operator training from the FAA and receive a certification in order to qualify for a remote pilot license. It is mandatory for remote pilots to adhere to a specified altitude for UAVs flights, failure to which can lead to heavy fines and penalties.
According to Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) by Health Canada, spraying a pesticide with the help of a drone/UAV in Canada is still not allowed under the Pest Control Products Act. One needs to apply to PMRA with data stating the added hazards and risks, in order to receive approval.

UAV- The Future of Pesticide Spraying

With the help of current advancements in drone technology, spraying is the one application of UAV technology that is currently witnessing unprecedented growth in the agriculture industry. Deployment of drones in the agriculture sector is gaining at a high rate of acceptance by farmers across the globe. Drones have enabled farmers to gather invaluable data to further augment profits and productivity, along with alleviating environmental hazards. As per a report by BIS Research, the global agriculture drone/UAV market generated over $950 million revenue in 2018, out of which the spraying application of UAVs held approximately 9% of the market value. 
Figure 4. Agricultural UAV Market by Applications
Source: BIS Research Analysis

The use of drones for various pesticide spraying applications leads to an efficient input of resources by farmers and allows for timely protection of crops from pests. The end users are rapidly identifying the benefits of the efficiency and affordability that drones provide to secure high yields and quality crops. The demand for drones for pesticide spraying is expected to further rise in the upcoming years. However, privacy and safety are still a cause of major concern for farmers. Addressing issues related to privacy, safety, and security can assist in the successful implementation of this technology.

 UAV technology has effectively bestowed upon users innumerable benefits, which makes it worth taking a risk. Farmers would be able to save time, energy, and money in crop production, along with drone technology effectively working in tandem with environmental protection and efficient degrees of productivity.

About BIS Research

BIS Research is a global B2B market intelligence and advisory firm focusing on those emerging technological trends which are likely to disrupt the dynamics of the market.

Our in-depth market intelligence reports on the agriculture and food technologies focus on the market estimations, technology analysis, emerging high-growth applications, deeply segmented granular country-level market data, and other important market parameters useful in the strategic decision-making for senior management.

What distinguishes BIS Research from the rest of the players is that we don’t simply provide data but also complement it with valuable insights and actionable inputs for the success of our clients.

For more information, please visit https://bisresearch.com/industry-verticals/agriculture



This article was initially published in AgroPages '2019 Formulation & Adjuvant Technology ' magazine. Download the PDF version of the magazine to read more articles.

Source: BIS Research

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