Spotlight on HCPA and their drone spraying working group

ICAERUS partners are ambitiously working to understand the challenges associated with widespread drone use in agricultural and rural settings, and HCPA is no exception. Not only are they part of Use Case 2: Drones Spraying but they have formed a working group that brings experts together to help achieve the domain specific goals around the drone spraying and their use case. 

What is the Hellenic Crop Protection Association and what do they do? 

Hellenic Crop Protection Association (HCPA) represents the market leading companies that place plant protection products on the Greek market. Its 23 full member companies develop and supply a wide range of innovative conventional and organic products and support farmers with solutions for a wide variety of crops.

In collaboration with scientists, technicians and other stakeholders of the food chain, the Association makes every effort to ensure the correct interpretation and implementation of the legislation and the integrated and effective protection of crops from pests and diseases. In addition, the HCPA promotes the development of innovative low risk plant protection products and biocontrols, as well as the promotion of new digital and precision agriculture solutions in crop management, following the goals of Green Deal and “Farm to Fork” Strategy for a sustainable agriculture with respect for human and the environment

In the context of the ICAERUS  and in collaboration with AUA, HCPA  actively contributes to the organization of demo farms and investigation on spraying drones in Attica, Viotia and Chalastra Regions, Greece.
HCPA also actively participates in the communication and dissemination of project outcomes :
– disseminating outcomes across its network
– trainings with farmers and other relevant stakeholders on the uses of drones in agriculture
– participating in discussions with authorities for the creation of a relevant legislative framework.

Why did you form a working group?

In the context of ICAERUS Use Case 2: Drone Spraying, HCPA has set up a working group to support and monitor the progress of the project. Members of the working group are experts from the plant protection industry (member companies of HCPA) specialized in digital and precision agriculture. The group’s overall experience in applying digital techniques in the field will help enrich the pilot trials on spraying drones, which will be conducted in collaboration with the AUA team.

What are the working group’s main goals and objectives?

The objective of the Drone Spraying Use Case  is to investigate the optimal spraying configurations in field conditions for various major crops of the Greek agricultural sector. Conventional practices’ efficiency and environmental impact will be compared to optimal drone spraying, while inherent UAV spraying risk factors will be identified and appropriate mitigation strategies will be developed.

The main objective of the working group is to push ICAERUS one step further and contribute with results of spraying efficacy against pests and diseases not only in vineyards, but also in other major crops in Greece, such us wheat, cotton, corn, rice and olive trees.

What are the highlights so far?

Their valuable contribution as relevant stakeholders during the “Understanding the Drone Market” survey, providing their perspective through both questionnaires and interviews.

The monthly meetings to investigate spraying protocols for each crop of interest and to organize the spraying trials (proper time according to stage of the crop and crop protection practices).

What can we look forward to?

As spraying with drones is considered aerial spraying according to Directive 2009/128/EC and remains prohibited, there is a necessity of special experimental permits from the Ministry of Rural Development and Food to conduct efficacy trials using PPPs.

So, what is on schedule now is specific field trials applying insecticide treatment in corn, herbicide treatment in rice (summer 2023) and defoliant treatment in cotton (early autumn 2023). Trials in olive trees are under discussion.

Trials both in corn and in cotton are going to be conducted in the AUA premises of Viotia and trials in rice are going to be conducted in Chalastra with the support of the working group members.

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      Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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