Desiccation of sunflower using agricultural drones – enhancing economic resilience of farms. Summary of the DroneUA practical conference.

August 28, 2023
Десикація соняшнику агродронами - підвищення економічної стійкості господарств. Підсумки практичної конференції DroneUA
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Sunflower is one of the strategically important crops on the global agricultural market, and therefore its successful implementation contributes to the food security of the world and the economic stability of our country.

The key factor in the profitability of growing this crop is the moisture level of the seeds at the time of harvesting, which forms the cost of drying. It is possible to avoid additional costs for finishing seeds, as well as to get the best quality harvest thanks to sunflower desiccation. An indispensable tool for desiccation without losses is the use of agrodrones, with which mechanical damage to plants is zero, which means that the profitability of the sunflower crop increases to a maximum.

Therefore, on the eve of the active sunflower desiccation season, the DroneUA Group of Companies held a practical conference "Desiccation with agricultural drones - a hidden reserve for financial growth and saving resources" in order to provide farmers with effective solutions from leading experts in the agricultural market and increase the efficiency of their activities. The event took place on August 15 at the AgriLab International Center for Precision Agriculture in Boryspil District (Kyiv Region).


Why is desiccation needed? When is the best time to conduct it?

The use of desiccants becomes important, first of all, in autumn, when there is a high probability of prolonged rains and even small frosts, which prevent the timely start of harvesting. Sunflower is one of those crops that can be most affected by delays in bringing equipment to the field. To avoid spillage of baskets, desiccation should be used.

Carrying out this operation:

  • Contributes to uniform and faster ripening of seeds.
  • Helps to minimize the impact of adverse weather on the quantity and quality of the harvested crop. Increases resistance of plants to mold, rot and other dangerous diseases that lead to deterioration of seed quality and its loss.

Drop in oil content (40-47%), decrease in yield up to 30%, increase

garbage (from 5-12%), empty grains

  • It dries crops, making the harvesting process much easier.
  • Allows you to avoid expenses for drying grain by technical means.

It is better to desiccate sunflower when the humidity of the seeds is about 20-30%, baskets - 80%, stalks - 60%. This condition occurs 35-40 days after mass flowering of the crop. The sunflower basket should be a typical lemon color. The leaves placed near the basket are dry.

The savings of using desiccation on sunflower due to a 6% decrease in seed moisture per 100 hectares amounts to UAH 182,640:

Cost economy. Technological ruts

The use of self-propelled sprayers when applying fungicides, insecticides and desiccants on sunflower and other tall crops is currently ineffective due to the trampling of a significant number of plants (up to 5%) by the wheels, which is equal to or exceeds the threshold that the pest itself can cause damage.

Tracks from a self-propelled sprayer account for up to 5% of a field or crop. Thus, 5 thousand hectares of land require 250 hectares of technological tracks.

With a yield of 3 tons/ha of sunflower seeds and a cost of 1 ton of seeds of UAH 15,700, there is a shortage of 750 tons of seeds from 250 hectares at a cost of UAH 11,775,000, or $294,375 (exchange rate of UAH 40/$1).

The cost of the additional harvest due to application by agricultural drones without technological tracks per 100 hectares is UAH 235,500.


The XAG V40 sprayer drone without additional equipment costs approximately $8,200 (327,999 UAH) at the exchange rate of UAH 40/$1, and the self-propelled sprayer has a price of $230,000-250,000.

Thus, the XAG V40 drone sprayer is 30 times cheaper than a self-propelled sprayer.

The purchase of one spraying drone and its use can be repaid in 1 year only due to the absence of technological tracks on the sunflower area of 140 hectares.

Additional profit thanks to the services of application by agricultural drones

Domestic innovative startup FarmFleet is an online platform that offers solutions for agricultural producers and service companies, combining the needs of agricultural operations and the technical possibilities of their satisfaction with the involvement of external contractors, forming a transparent and intelligent market for outsourcing services in agriculture. The project is currently attracting foreign investment and entering the American market.


In Ukraine, FarmFleet opened this season its own service line for the provision of chemical fertilizers and fertilizers:

  • 8 brigades with a powerful fleet of XAG V40 / P100 drones;
  • ZZR mixers for 130-200 l;
  • 1,000 hectares of productivity potential per day
  • agronomic service for customer support and research activities.

Today, the FarmFleet team performs field mapping and provides efficient continuous and spot treatment of fields.

During the event, the co-founder of the FarmFleet project, Volodymyr Haplik, presented his own successful FarmFleet cases with local crop processing, thanks to which the farm cut processing costs in half.

To protect 100 hectares of corn using land-based wheeled machinery, $9,000 would be needed (the cost of drugs, losses from technological ruts, rental of self-propelled machinery). Instead, thanks to the field mapping and spot application of affected areas by the FarmFleet team, only $4.5 thousand was needed on this same area (the cost of drugs and services for application by agricultural drones)

It is worth noting that losses per 100 hectares of sunflower from transport tracks (5% of crops) in monetary terms can reach $5.6 thousand (at a yield of 3 t/ha and a price of $370/t)

According to the recommendations of the FarmFleet service team, the optimal conditions for applying PPE by drones are:

  • The application rate is 6-8 l/ha
  • The speed of the working unit is < 8 m/s
  • The flight height above the level of plants is 3-5 m
  • The size of the drop is 130-150 microns
  • Wind speed - < 5 m/s
  • Air temperature - < 25°С
  • Air humidity - < 80%

When the use of agricultural drones is critically necessary

"Agriculture is always a struggle against time: to sow on time, ripen on time, rain on time, apply fertilizers on time, harvest on time... If it is important for you to win a few weeks for sowing winter crops, then desiccation is for you," Yaroslav notes. Fedoryshyn, co-founder of the DronAgronom service company.


Excessive seed moisture can lead to rotting of plants in the field. In addition, in wet weather, wheeled machinery simply cannot enter the field. In this case, drone processing is the most optimal and cost-effective option for sunflower desiccation.

Also, unmanned solutions make it possible to avoid the difficulties of moving equipment in the field due to heavy weediness of the crops.

It is especially necessary to use drones in fields with a complex configuration, where technological ruts significantly exceed 5%.

Improving the result thanks to quality monitoring

A professional approach to collecting field information is one of the hidden reserves on the way to cost optimization. Using qualitative field analysis and modern tools, it is possible to calculate the productivity of each hectare and carry out the operation of feeding and protecting crops only where it is appropriate, precisely allocating resources. Today, the AgriLab company actively shares its experience in this area with farmers.

Satellite data allows for soil, weather and crop condition analysis. However, field surveys can also be carried out by drones (up to 3,000 hectares per day).


In addition, AgriLab has practical experience of using sprayer drones in the introduction of pesticides and desiccation, which Volodymyr Makhota, head of the scientific and technological support department of the AgriLab company, told about during the practical conference. In particular, the company successfully applied UMO when applying growth regulators and fungicides.

According to the experience of AgriLab:

  • savings due to the point application of AZR is from 6 to 10 $/ha;
  • cost savings during desiccation by drones up to $20/ha depending on the coverage area.

This year, the DroneUA Group of Companies is a partner of the Digital Field 2023 project - the Polygon of Agricultural Innovations from the AgriLab company, where it presents the possibilities of innovative robotics for XAG agriculture as an exclusive distributor of the brand.

As part of the project, DroneUA provides leading expertise in the practical application of agricultural drones in agriculture and demonstrates the capabilities of ultra-small-volume application of pesticides and fertilizers at Digital Field landfills.

So far, three treatments of corn and sunflower crops have already been carried out, during which insecticides, fungicides, growth regulators and biological preparations were successfully applied by the XAG V40 sprayer drone and the most powerful XAG P100 agrodrone with a discharge rate of 5 to 8 l/ha and a productivity of up to 25 ha/h . Therefore, the AgriLab company has already convinced itself of the effectiveness of the technology of ultra-small-volume application by drone sprayers and is currently conducting sunflower desiccation at the Digital Field test sites.

Sunflower storage

Proper storage of the culture is important after desiccation and harvesting of sunflower. During the conference, the executive director of the Association of Cooperatives "Gospodar" Serhiy Kurdytskyi shared expert recommendations regarding humidity, terms and storage temperature.


For the economically profitable sale of sunflower at optimal prices, the seeds must meet basic quality indicators, such as moisture, waste and oil impurities, acid number and oil content. In order for these indicators to be most relevant to the requirements of 2023, it is necessary to adhere to the conditions of high-quality and reliable sunflower storage.

Practical demonstration of XAG aerial and ground agricultural robots in field conditions


During the practical part of the conference, DroneUA agrodrone operators demonstrated XAG's robotic solutions.

The participants of the event had the opportunity to see the world's first XAG V40 twin-rotor drone sprayer, which is distinguished by its mobility during transportation and high maneuverability in operation. He is able to easily bypass obstacles and perform his work as accurately as possible.

The participants of the event also demonstrated the XAG P100 agricultural drone, the most powerful in Ukraine, in operation, the productivity of which reaches 25 ha/h. The capacity of the tank for liquid solutions is 40 l, the capacity for bulk solutions is 60 l.


During the demonstration, in just a few minutes, the XAG P100 agricultural drone was converted to perform another operation, replacing the RevoSpray modular platform, designed for spraying crops, with the RevoCast platform for applying bulk drugs and seeds.


Also during the event, XAG's new product was presented - the first ground robotic platform XAG R150 2022 in Ukraine. The ground robot XAG R150 2022 of the new generation impresses with its multifunctionality. Thanks to its universal design, it fundamentally changes production approaches in horticulture, berry growing, vegetable growing and other areas of the fruit and vegetable industry, allowing to radically reduce the costs of human resources, increase the accuracy and speed of work.


The fully autonomous agricultural robot XAG R150 2022 quickly transforms and performs various types of technological operations with an accuracy of up to 1 cm, even in off-road conditions.

The transport platform for fast transportation of goods has been increased to the size of 1080*1080 mm and is capable of transporting 200 kg of crops, fertilizers or other materials.

In addition, the ground robot transforms to spray plantings with the improved Revo Spray equipment, and is also able to trim plants in the RevoMoover modification.

The robot works completely autonomously, the route, tasks and return home are programmed for it. One operator can control the simultaneous operation of 5 such drones using a tablet or smartphone with an installed application, where the movement of the machines can be tracked on a map.

Electric equipment allows you to reduce production costs and has a longer service life. The robot can work without recharging for 4 hours. One battery is charged in just 12 minutes.

Our main goal in the implementation of modern solutions in the agricultural sector resonates with the global mission of XAG - to make agriculture more innovative, resource-saving and productive. And we succeed in this perfectly thanks to the effective integration of XAG's advanced unmanned solutions into domestic agricultural production and successful collaborations.

The practical conference "Desication with agricultural drones - a hidden reserve for financial growth and saving resources" demonstrated the orientation of the agricultural market to move towards cost optimization thanks to the implementation of innovative solutions. Today it is worth counting every hryvnia and rationally using every hectare of field. And this is possible only with the use of accurate, modern solutions that automate work processes, increase the versatility of equipment, allow the most rational distribution and use of resources and obtain better results.




The practical conference "Desication with agricultural drones - a hidden reserve for financial growth and saving resources" was held with the support of media partners, magazine "AgroElita", general partner ProAgro Group and the company AgriLab.

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DroneUA is an international system integrator of unmanned solutions and robotics.

On the market of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the DroneUA group of companies is the largest importer and distributor of leading drone manufacturers in the world and represents technological solutions from the brands XAG, EcoFlow, Pix4D, Parrot, Chasing, DroneDeploy, AgroCares and others.

The group of companies has its own engineering, production and service divisions, as well as an open data processing center. Technological solutions presented by DroneUA are used on more than 4 million hectares of cultivated areas of Ukraine. According to the results of the 2021 and 2022 agricultural seasons, more than 2.2 million hectares were protected with drone sprayers from DroneUA.

DroneUA is among the top three most innovative businesses in the agricultural sector of Ukraine according to FORBES and among the twenty most innovative enterprises of Ukraine.

The group of companies continues to expand the list of technological brands that it presents on the Ukrainian market, and is active in agriculture, the oil and gas industry, as well as in the fields of energy, geodesy and topography.

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