ICAR–CPRI trials drone-based potato crop management


February 10, 2021: ICAR–Central Potato Research Institute (ICAR–CPRI) has signed a three-year partnership with Bayer Crop Science Ltd. and General Aeronautics Pvt. Ltd., to jointly develop recommendations for drone-based crop management technologies for potato crops in India. Under the partnership that will begin from 2021 and conclude in 2023, Bayer will offer its crop protection solutions for disease and pest management in potato, while General Aeronautics will provide its services for drone equipment and application.


Potato is one of the key horticulture crops in India and a staple part of Indian diets. Nearly 2.16 million hectares of land in India is used for cultivation of this cash crop. Indian farmers rely on a good potato harvest for maximizing their farm incomes. However, this crop has been highly susceptible to various diseases and pests, denting into the income of potato growers.


Since its inception in 1949, ICAR–CPRI has been working towards harnessing the potential of potato for India’s food and nutritional security, which has resulted into phenomenal growth of this crop in our country now only second to China. To take its efforts a step further, ICAR–CPRI under the guidance of the Horticulture Division of ICAR, recently carried out drone-based application of crop protection products in about 1.2 hectares of potato experimental fields at its Research Station in Modipuram, Uttar Pradesh. The trials were conducted after obtaining the necessary approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the local administration. Trained experts from ICAR–CPRI, Bayer and General Aeronautics recorded observations on parameters such as phytotoxicity, penetration efficiency, drift and plant coverage.


The drone trials have shown encouraging results with no adverse effect on potato crops. ICAR–CPRI will conduct a detailed analysis of the data gathered from the observations and will use it for developing recommendations for drone-based potato crop management technologies across India. This will be a giant step for precision farming in India.


Bayer’s collaboration with ICAR–CPRI for drone-based application of crop protection in potato will help the company develop digital solutions for Indian farmers as part of its integrated crop management solutions. This will not only improve the efficiency of crop protection products, it will also reduce operator exposure, time, cost and manual labour used in application and enable lesser use of water. Bayer stands committed to develop holistic solutions with partners across the agricultural value chain to deliver sustainable farm incomes and promote sustainable agriculture in India.


General Aeronautics is working towards making Indian agricultural practices more sustainable with its world-class, indigenous drones that utilize precision spray technology. This will help improve the application efficiency multi-fold and result in higher agriculture yields, while ensuring health and safety for the operator. This modern technology can also be utilized by smallholder farmers at costs comparable to the cost of traditional manual labour.