Results of the intensive course “Agriculture drone’s application and ULV technology” : 100+ participants mastered drone piloting

March 26, 2024
Результати курсу-інтенсиву «Застосування агродронів та технологія УМО»: 100+ учасників опанували пілотування дроном
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Аgricultural drones are becoming a must-have in the technical arsenal of agricultural producers, and mastering the basic skills of working with a drone in the field can practically be accomplished within a day. These are the general conclusions of the practical two-day intensive course “Agriculture drone’s application and ULV technology: everything an effective farmer needs to know”, which was organized by DroneUA on March 21-22 in the Kyiv region. The course included a practical conference with leading industry experts and training on piloting in field conditions. The event brought together over 100 participants, including representatives from farms and service companies, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students.

Interest in agricultural machinery and unmanned solutions in the domestic agricultural market is growing every season. The start of field work in 2024 demonstrates the high readiness of farmers to implement resource-efficient and climate-oriented tools. Quality economic results from the use of drone sprayers in previous seasons have established a high level of expertise and practical application of ULV technology. Bio- and agrochemical manufacturers are gradually enhancing their expertise in the use/adaptation of products for application by drones through systematic field research. The presented results today form an exceptional basis for the development of regulations and, over time, registration at the official level of new formulations recommended for application by agricultural drones.

The next step is to provide even more open information and accessibility to practical data, which will help deepen knowledge not only about ultra-low volume spraying technologies but also about the technical specifics of operating drone sprayers.

The collective action of all market participants creates conditions for the enhanced integration of drone sprayers and agricultural machinery, thus increasing the economic efficiency and financial stability of farmers.


Ukrainian experience, climate-orientedness, and resource efficiency

Between 2021 and 2023, approximately 3.1 million hectares were treated with agricultural drones, taking into account the annual performance of DroneUA partners and clients using XAG equipment. This figure will continue to grow, especially considering Ukraine's course towards integration with the EU. This course demands green investments, reduction of the carbon footprint, and conservation of natural resources. Drones in agriculture represent resource efficiency, climate orientation, and precision farming.

"Each agricultural drone that can use not 200 liters, but 10 liters of water is our small investment in the restoration of our water resources and preservation of this water for the future," - notes Ruslana Zahniy, Head of Marketing and Communications Department at DroneUA.

From theory to practice: "salt" ULV technology for the use of agricultural drones.

Agricultural drones entered our country abruptly and in large numbers. Neither production nor science were prepared for this. However, today the situation has changed. Companies already have significant experience in the application of agricultural drones in various technological operations and with various agents. And the scientific sphere allocates a separate place for ULV in its research and educational programs.


Igor Bordiuzha, Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences from NUBIP, highlights ULV as a separate effective and efficient technology with an average application rate of 5-10 liters per hectare. According to him, despite such a small application rate, ULV technology dispels all doubts of producers:

  • such a quantity of solution is entirely sufficient for quality treatment;
  • the product works, achieving the necessary biological effect;
  • the entire green mass of the plant is covered by the solution, easily penetrating into the lower layers of the crop.

"ULV allows working with very fine droplets - this is an advantage, as the finer the droplet, the higher the coefficient of absorption and assimilation of the solution by the plant. It is expected that in the near future, there will be developments regarding tank mixtures, i.e., working solutions, mixtures of different pesticides, micronutrients, stimulants - they will be classified and categorized as a separate category - these are drone tank mixtures," - says Igor Bordiuzha.

At the same time, the scientist advises paying attention to the following:

  • when working with tank mixtures, it is necessary for the products, in addition to compatibility, to also have high solubility and a low salt index;
  • in the case of phytohormonal preparations, it is important to strictly adhere to the manufacturer's recommendations, as increasing the quantity by 1-2 grams can significantly alter the plant's metabolism and life cycle;
  • when working with drone sprayers, it is essential to maintain the correct pH level of the water and monitor it during the process, as most preparations lose their working properties at an alkaline pH.

Optimizing application rates and achieving efficiency with ULV technology. A case study from Syngenta Ukraine.

"The main advantage of using ULV technology with drone application is the ability to work with minimal losses on tall crops," - notes Yevhen Buyun, Regional Technical Expert at Syngenta Ukraine.


Based on the experience of Syngenta Ukraine:

  • The recommended application rate for any products starts from 6 liters per hectare. The minimum number of droplets is from 20 units per 1 cm².
  • The role of adjuvants in ULV is quite significant; these products can greatly enhance application efficiency.

In particular, the company shares research that studied the effects of two types of adjuvants:

  • Organosilicone adjuvants - their task is to reduce the surface tension of the liquid, allowing the droplet to have a larger contact area with the plant, thus increasing the absorption of the product.
  • Drift-reducing adjuvants - their role is to increase the density of the spray solution, resulting in fewer small droplets that drift away. On average, adding adjuvants reduces the loss of active substance by 15-20 meters.
  • When adding adjuvants to tank mixtures, it is important to adjust flight parameters. Specifically, for uniform coverage, it is necessary to reduce the swath width by an average of 1.5 meters.

"On a practical level, we have concluded that a droplet size of 150 microns is better able to 'cling' to the plant stem compared to a droplet size of 250 microns. The use of a finer droplet allows it to be immediately 'placed' on the stem, rather than waiting for it to transition later. Additionally, larger droplets tend to cling to the upper leaves, making it more difficult for them to reach the middle or lower layers," - notes Yevhen Buyun.

According to him, ULV is actively used by manufacturers today and is being studied by agrochemical companies. Desired effectiveness can be guaranteed for the manufacturer today, but under certain conditions that must be strictly adhered to.

The tandem of high technologies: drones and biotechnologies. A case study from "BTU-CENTER."

"We were interested in whether it is possible to combine bio-preparations in tank mixtures and how this would affect drone operation. Therefore, the main task was to test the possibility of application. Today, we have treated over 100,000 hectares of land with our own preparations using drone sprayers. We tested stimulants together with micronutrients, as our company specializes in fungicides, biological insecticides, and anti-stress agents," - says Oleksandr Otsabryk, Sales Manager at "BTU-CENTER."


From 2020 to 2023, the most attention was given to the product for winter rapeseed adhesion, as there was high demand from enterprises. The peculiarity of its application with the help of agricultural drones is that the mature crop is not trampled. When driving with a wheeled sprayer on rapeseed, more harm is done than good. Therefore, the best solution is the application of desiccants together with adhesives by agriculture drone’s.

"A major advantage of drones is the ability for targeted treatment of affected areas. When it comes to fungicidal and insecticidal protection, localized disease outbreaks are quite common. The use of drones allows timely resolution of the problem, as disease spread is possible under conditions of sufficient moisture, temperature, and the disease itself. Additionally, the precision of treatment using drones saves time and money," - notes Oleksandr Otsabryk.

"BTU-CENTER" worked with drone technology on sunflower affected by white rot on an area of 100,000 hectares for two consecutive years. They applied 2 liters per hectare of sclerotin with 5 liters per hectare of water. As a result, the disease incidence rate decreased to 7-10%.

"Agriculture drones provide the ability to cover large areas in a short period of time; you can launch a swarm of drones simultaneously and address the issue. There is also significant savings in water and fuel, which adds additional attractiveness for agro-holdings and allows for cost savings," - adds the expert.

Adhesive application by agriculture drones allows for significant savings:

  • up to 15% crop preservation due to reduced trampling and lodging;
  • up to 50% crop preservation from cracking;
  • up to 90% reduction in the volume of working solution without sacrificing effectiveness.

Features of fertilizer application: applying anti-stressants by agriculturedrones. A case study from "ECOORGANIC."

"Microfertilizers, stimulants, in the current resource-saving conditions, are somewhat overlooked by farmers, but they cannot be ignored; they need to be applied in order to optimize and increase crop yields, as well as to preserve genetic potential," - notes Oleksandr Katerynchuk, Head of Agronomy Department at "ECOORGANIC."


Products that have a positive effect, do not cause chemical burns, and are applied by drones:

  • Phosphite products: They are quickly absorbed and have fungicidal properties on plants, serving as a source of rapid and accessible phosphorus.
  • Chelated metals: The chelation level is crucial for UAV application, ensuring the stability of tank mixtures and preventing interactions between different active substances.
  • Liquid fertilizers for foliar feeding: Our fertilizers do not contain chelated metals, making them suitable for tank mixtures without fear of interaction with active substances that may precipitate or bind.
  • Boron fertilizers: Boron fertilizers are best used in ULV applications without tank mixtures, as they have a high pH level. They should be cautiously applied in multi-component tank mixtures, as they may alter the pH towards alkalinity.
  • Amino acids: They behave well in tank mixtures.
  • Phytohormones: They can have both positive and negative effects; in plant protection products, they negatively affect plants.
  • Polyactive boost: A growth stimulant and super anti-stress agent that accelerates and restores leaf growth after various types of damage.

At "ECOORGANIC," they shared a case of applying a highly concentrated stimulant to soybean crops that had chemical burns. After 7 days, the damaged leaves began to recover and change color, with leaf area increasing. Within a month, no further damage was observed.

"In such situations, the application of stimulants or anti-stress agents by agriculture drones is indispensable. They can save not only the harvest but also the jobs of agronomists who have made mistakes. Since rectifying the situation in the field is often not easy, especially in cases of lack of knowledge and skills. Application by drones is quick and effective assistance in the field in emergency situations," - notes Oleksandr Katerynchuk.

How to unlock the potential of pesticides in ULV application? Case study from "Spraytec Ukraine."

"Before discussing ultra-low volume application technologies, we need to rethink our mentality and approaches to life first and foremost. Only 1% of the total water reserve in the world is available and suitable for use. Every day, people consume about 10 billion tons of water, and only 80% of it returns to the environment. Approximately 70% of water is used specifically in agriculture," - says Pavlo Andrusyk, Commercial Director of "Spraytec Ukraine."


What prevents pesticides from realizing their effect in ultra-low volume application:

  • high pH;
  • water hardness, water saturation with metals, calcium, magnesium - when interacting with many active substances, they undergo decomposition;
  • foam - without using specific foam-suppressing agents, you're partly paying for air.

"When using agriculture drones, the use of adjuvants is a must. Last year, together with DroneUA, we conducted experiments with and without the addition of adjuvants. On water-sensitive paper, we determined that the effectiveness and quality of coverage with adjuvants are significantly higher. Moreover, low-volume application allows reducing the cost of the produced crops," - notes Pavlo Andrusyk.

With the XAG V40 agriculture drone sprayer, we conducted 5 experiments with different dosages of the preparation, applying the following parameters: application rate - 8 l/ha, droplet size - 130 µm, drone speed - 6 m/s, wind speed 3.5-4 m/s, air temperature - 29.8 degrees Celsius.

The test results demonstrated that the droplet becomes heavier and more viscous, minimizing the drift of the working solution, increasing the effectiveness of the preparation's action, and the coverage area. Thus, the effective ultra-low volume application technology becomes even more efficient and profitable.

Reducing drift as a key prerequisite for effective pesticide application by drones. Case study from "Agro Expert."

"Usually, pesticides don't work not because they are not applied or applied by agriculture drones, but due to the pH level. Hard water significantly clogs the nozzles. Dealing with water hardness is very challenging," - says Oleksandr Karnaukh, Product Manager of Fertilizers and Micronutrients at "Agro Expert" company.


Thus, XAG agriculturedrones come in handy, as XAG's patented atomizer technology allows for effective operation with solutions of varying density and with water of imperfect quality. Since atomizers do not clog, unlike nozzles, there are currently no alternatives to them.

Another important factor is wind speed. According to the experience of "Agro Expert":

  • if the flight height is 10 meters and the wind speed is 5 m/s, the drift will be up to 20 km, which equals 25% loss;
  • if the flight height is 5 meters, the drift will be up to 5 km.

In this case, the use of drift reduction products is indispensable. However, "Agro Expert" also recommends performing technological operations at a maximum wind speed of 3 m/s and a temperature of up to +22 degrees Celsius, with a droplet size for agriculture drone use ranging from 150 to 200 microns.

The role of resource-saving technologies in crop management

According to Mykola Doli, Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Professor at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, and Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of Ukraine, the first and most important step in integrating precision farming technologies into agriculture is timely and thorough monitoring of crops to detect harmful organisms, including plant pathogens, phytophagous insects, weeds, rodents, and so on. Proper monitoring allows for all operations to be conducted in a timely manner and necessary treatments to be applied.


The next important step is the remote assessment of the effectiveness of the applied agents, followed by post-application evaluation. The ecological and phytosanitary justification of monitoring using agricultural drones is aimed at managing and preserving the natural resource base and orienting technological and institutional changes to ensure the fulfillment of current and future generations' needs.

The reasoned management of agriculture systems with remote monitoring of land and the application of technologies for a comprehensive effect include the use of plant protection products, biopolymers, amino acids, enzyme peptides, biostimulants, and nutrient activators.

Optimizing the model of remote monitoring and protection of agricultural crops includes expert forecast models, the application of resource-saving technologies (agricultural drones), control over the complex of harmful organisms, and ecotoxicological assessment.

All these measures will ensure quality control of the post-application of agents delivered by agricultural drones.

Economic-mathematical model of drone use for precision agriculture: Calculating "non-losses" and additional crop yield.

According to Anatoliy Bezolyuk, Sales Manager at XAG Ukraine (DroneUA), the new challenges for farmers in 2024 are:

  • urgent need to change approaches to agrotechnological processes - optimizing costs and increasing efficiency;
  • sortage of human resources, the need to increase the number of agricultural drone operators through retraining of personnel;
  • slow adaptation of financial instruments to the needs of farmers.

In response to these challenges, the following solutions are available today:

  • ecosystem of robotic solutions for agriculture from XAG;
  • productive collaboration between businesses and educational institutions, initiating pilot training projects;
  • establishment of partnership programs with banks for advantageous financing of farmers.


The advantages of using XAG agricultural drones compared to conventional sprayers are:

  • over 70% fuel savings (drones operate on electric batteries);
  • up to 95% water savings (application rate of 5-10 liters per hectare);
  • up to 10% additional yield (due to the absence of technological tracks);
  • absence of soil compaction;
  • timely execution of technological processes: no downtime, work immediately after rainfall;
  • precision or localized treatment.

Anatoliy Bezolyuk provides a real calculation of losses from technological tracks, which on average occupy 3-5% of the crops. For example, on a sunflower crop with an area of 680 hectares, technological tracks occupying 3% of the area will lead to a loss of 20.4 hectares, 61.2 tons of yield, and ultimately 918,000 hryvnias (at a yield of 3 tons/ha and a price of 1500 hryvnias/ton).

At the same time, the cost of the XAG V40 agricultural drone kit is 444,000 hryvnias.

Based on these economic calculations, during the analysis of the cultivation technology by one of the participants of the intensive course, it was determined that if the producer had an agricultural drone on their farm, they would have received an additional profit of approximately 1.5 million hryvnias, even at the cost of the most powerful XAG P100 Pro agricultural drone.

Maksym Mykhailov, Head of the Technical Department at DroneUA, conducted a technical presentation of the XAG agricultural drone model range, during which he highlighted the technical characteristics and design of the XAG P100 Pro and XAG V40 agricultural drones.


In real-time mode, Vadym Samoylenko, a trainer-pilot from DroneUA, demonstrated the registration and activation of the drone in the application, mission creation: methods of area measurement, calibration, adjustment of application parameters and route, terrain tracking radar, discharge rates, swath width, and operating altitude.


On the second day of the intensive course, during field training, all participants were able to witness firsthand the power and capabilities of XAG agricultural drones in various scenarios and literally experience the technology of ultra-low-volume application. Everyone observed a demonstration of the XAG V40 spraying drone and Europe's most productive agricultural drone, the XAG P100 Pro.


Furthermore, they tried themselves as agricultural drone pilots in practice, independently launching it for agricultural tasks. Each one dispelled all doubts and fears and realized that drones are a modern, accessible, and easy-to-master tool that allows for timely and quality operations, thereby increasing the profitability of any farm in the shortest possible time.


In field conditions, all participants of the course, together with experienced DroneUA trainer-pilots, practiced basic scenarios of agrotechnological operations and independently tried to:

  • build field boundaries and plan routes in the XAG One application;
  • set working parameters: application rate, droplet size, flight altitude and speed, swath width, etc.;
  • perform pre-flight checks of the drone;
  • launch the drone on a mission and complete the task correctly.


Anatoliy Bezolyuk, Sales Manager at XAG Ukraine (DroneUA), notes:

"Over these two days, I am pleasantly impressed by the large number of people eager to acquire knowledge in piloting and the new technology of implementing agricultural drones and the entire ecosystem of robotic solutions on their farms. It's heartening to see that more and more people are approaching this matter more professionally - both in terms of choosing agricultural drones and understanding the technology. Many are hesitant to buy agricultural drones because they don't know how to operate them properly, but after completing the intensive course, participants note that this fear has disappeared. Many clients who have purchased agricultural drones mention that they previously knew little about how they operate. And during this event, they looked at mistakes differently, realizing how they can be corrected and how to continue working to ensure that the use of agrodrones yields maximum results for the farm. We regularly conduct pilot training at other events, educational institutions, and company facilities. The educational work we are conducting today is crucial, and DroneUA will continue to do everything possible to ensure the development of the agricultural drones market."


GK DroneUA does not stop and continues to prepare new interesting solutions for farmers and a systemic approach to their implementation, aiming not only to develop the domestic market of agricultural drones but also to foster the growth of the entire agricultural sector and enhance the country's economic resilience.

GK DroneUA extends its gratitude to all partners who participated in the event, shared their experiences, and provided professional knowledge in drone spraying with various spectrum of agents: BTU-CENTER, Agro Expert Group of Companies, LLC "ECOORGANIC", LLC "Spraytec Ukraine", and Syngenta Ukraine. Special thanks for the warm welcome and involvement to the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, within the framework of the joint project "XAG Innovation Academy" at the Department of Agrochemistry and Plant Product Quality named after O.I. Dushechkin.

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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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