Trichogramma dispersal using UAVs — an eco-friendly method of pest control

Modern UAVs have proven in practice to be an extremely effective and flexible tool for crop care from the air. Recently, farmers have been increasingly using them not only to collect information about the condition of crops and problem areas in the fields, but also to effectively and economically control crop pests, in particular through trichogramma dispersal.

Trichogramma dispersal is a biological method of plant protection against insect pests, which involves spraying small insects in the larval stage that feed on parasite eggs. Here's why it's advisable to disperse trichogramma using UAVs. 

Benefits of trichogramma for pest control

Trichogramma is an insect of the horseman family that nips more than 70 species of agricultural pests in the bud. Trichogramma dispersal allows you to control pests such as cabbage and winter moths, meadow and corn butterflies, apple codling moths, cabbage whitefly, etc.

The use of trichogramma is much cheaper than chemical plant protection and has important advantages over it:

  • destroys pests at the egg stage;
  • destroys pests even in places that are hard to reach and inaccessible for chemical treatment;
  • allows you to engage in organic farming, and improve the quality and value of the crop;
  • completely safe for humans and the environment;
  • economical compared to chemical treatments.

In Ukraine, trichogramma is commonly used to control stem borer on corn crops, which are planted on about 5 million hectares annually. The decisive factor in choosing trichogramma to protect corn from pests is its cost: compared to popular insecticides, it is 7-10 times cheaper.

To maximize the effect of trichogram application, it is important to choose the right time and fit in within 2-3 days when the pest begins to lay eggs. In addition to the timely application, the effectiveness is also affected by the quality of the trichogram (storage conditions, reproduction, temperature conditions, species selection, etc.) and the application procedure itself. Trichogramma can be applied using small aircraft, UAVs, or aircraft platforms such as hang gliders and paragliders.

The use of small aircraft and aircraft platforms is quite complex and costly. In addition to proper operation and maintenance of the equipment, it requires a crew of qualified pilots and special licenses and permits to fly. Given the ban on agricultural aviation flights during martial law, the use of UAVs is one of the few options to disperse trichogramma from the air.

UAVs allow you to spray biological products quickly and cheaply. They are simple and easy to use, do not require large runways, and do not require fuel costs. Drones can take off anywhere, fly at the altitudes required for certain work, and spray the trichogram in the right areas of the field and the required dosage.

These are the main advantages of trichogramma dispersal using UAVs:

  • safety for the environment and for the pilot (compared to the use of hang gliders and paragliders);
  • low cost of application compared to the cost of chemical treatment of plants;
  • high application efficiency and the ability to save up to 20% of the crop;
  • pest control even in hard-to-reach places and on fields with difficult terrain;
  • uniform distribution of the trichogram in all areas of the field;
  • wide range and long-lasting effect on pests;
  • the ability to vary the required amount of biomaterial depending on the crop, seasonality, weather factors, etc.

How Culver Aviation works

In its work, Culver Aviation uses a UAV of its design and production, the AZNP-23, to apply the trichogram. This is a radio-controlled aircraft with a fuselage made of durable but very lightweight EPO foam. The design of the aircraft and its low weight allow it to hover easily on air currents and fly at low speeds, ensuring longer flight duration and even distribution of trichoramas on the field. At the same time, this type of UAV is relatively cheap to maintain and repair in the event of a crash.

The wingspan of the AZNP-23 is 1718 mm. Despite its size, the UAV is capable of reaching high flight speeds thanks to its powerful powerplant. Stability and stability of flight at speed are achieved thanks to modern electronics. To facilitate transportation to flight sites, the wings of the aircraft for transportation can be easily and quickly removed and installed upon arrival at the field. Optionally, a monitoring camera can be installed on the nose of the AZNP-23.

Depending on the operator's qualifications, size, and configuration of the fields, the AZNP-23 can process from 800 to 1000 hectares in one work shift, and the GPS accuracy of the application is within 0.5 m.

Culver Aviation has its staff of UAV operators, which ensures the mobility of the crew and the speed of response to requests when the farmer has only 2-3 days in which the trichogramma dispersal will bring maximum effect. Our production facilities and a large UAV fleet allow us to treat crops over large areas and in a short time.

Interested in conducting trichogramma dispersal using UAVs or looking for more information about the service? If you have any questions, please call 0 800 351 709.